The Fax of Life
There are two basic approaches to life.
Many of us love anything new and different. The future brings hope and improvement; we look forward to technological advances even more impressive than plasma TV, the iPod, and blogs.
On the other hand, some of us hang on to the past with as much zeal as Tom Cruise hangs onto roles that make him younger than his actual mid-40s. Untested novelties bring danger; security comes from the familiar.
We know where Canton, Ohio’s Ester Strogen comes down on this question—she has rented two old-school rotary telephones for nearly 50 years. Until this summer, she was still paying her phone company more than $100 a year to rent the phones that most of us barely remember.
Yes, that’s right—she has coughed up thousands of dollars over the years to avoid touch-tone phones.
Her family is upset that the phone company appears to have been taking advantage of Ester and other aging folks who simply don’t think through the ultimate cost of renting equipment versus buying it.
So what about other supposedly obsolete communications technology?
The Pony Express. Horses and mail are one hell of a combination. Why did we ever get rid of this? Mounted mail delivery makes sense—especially when you’re driving along, minding your own business, and a motorized postal vehicle pulls out from the curb, right in front of you, almost causing a damn wreck and killing you! (Not that this would happen, of course.)
The letter. Maybe there’s no need for the mail anyway. People used to write letters to each other; now my mailbox fills up with credit card offers and Bed, Bath, and Beyond 20% coupons. Let’s bring back the art form of the letter and get rid of quickly written and often useless e-mails.
The fax machine. Jammed paper, slow delivery, fuzzy documents … the fax machine may be one of the worst inventions since Scientology. In a world of scanners and e-mail attachments, why do we still have these miserable creations?
I’m still waiting for the day when we can communicate by thought alone. All those science fiction stories and Star Trek episodes I enjoyed while growing up had me convinced that by now we’d have telepathic skills, flying cars, and gorgeous green-skinned women.
I haven’t seen any of these. I’m more likely to see a rotary phone.
Speaking of which, if you are still renting equipment from your phone company, I suggest that you buy yourself a cheap phone and send the company a note telling them to stop charging you.
Make sure it's a letter—not an e-mail. And don’t send it by fax.