Magazine article Risk Management

Can You Hear Me Now?

Magazine article Risk Management

Can You Hear Me Now?

Article excerpt

Years and years ago I worked for a company that provided technical support for new cell phone users. This was well before cell phones were as widespread as they are today, and the market was still split between bulky analog brick phones and the newer digital models that were just starting to come out. Like just about anyone who has ever worked in customer support, my day often felt like a test to see how much frustration I could endure.

Most of the time it seemed like my "tech support" consisted of telling people that, unlike a landline phone, they actually needed to press send to make a call or that they needed to charge their cell phone's battery before using it (assuming they even figured out that they needed to attach the battery in the first place). Explaining how to work voicemail was like teaching a toddler how to pilot a 747. I know that there is always going to be a learning curve with new technology, but that didn't mean I didn't want to repeatedly bash my head into the nearest hard surface at the end of each workday.

What probably contributed to my disdain for some of these callers was that, despite being a trained cell phone expert, I still didn't own one myself. To me, they seemed like an unnecessary luxury, a feeling that was only magnified by these vapid, pretentious users who seemed to only make inane calls that always began, "You'll never guess where I'm calling from ..."

Yeah, I was an angry young man.

Cut to 20 years later and cell phones are ubiquitous. It has even evolved to the point that we rarely use them for actual phone calls anymore, preferring to communicate via text, email or tweet. These days if someone actually has the audacity to call me I'm usually skeptical of their motives and more than likely will just let it go to voicemail. Then I'll probably just text them back. Who has the time for a live conversation anyway? What am I, your therapist?

And now, wireless is replacing landlines entirely. Personally, I haven't had a landline in my home for years, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, I'm not alone. More than half of U.S. households either don't have or don't use a landline.

Not surprisingly, the younger demographic is more likely to be wireless-only. Almost half of 18- to 24-year-olds and 60% of 25- to 29-year-olds eschew landlines, while on the other end of the age spectrum only a quarter of 45- to 64-year-olds and 10% of those 65 or older have similarly cut the cord. …

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