As the New York Times’ Charlie Savage reported, “For the first time since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans will again be free to place phone calls — to friends, lovers, business associates, political groups, doctors and pizza restaurants — without having logs of those contacts vacuumed up in bulk by the National Security Agency.”
Do you hear that? We’re free! Free to make … phone calls!
This phone call news is like telling me I am free to send as many telegraphs as possible and the government will not read them. I’ve lost the inclination. No, more than that. When you say, “You are now free to make telephone calls” I hear “You can now run as many triathlons as you want while having someone pull your toenails out one by one!” Both prospects sound about equally enticing. I have sent text messages the length of “Moby Dick” in order to avoid picking up the phone.
Maybe this is because I am a millennial and one of the exciting things about being a millennial is that we have become suddenly hypersensitive to things that used to comprise the majority of human life — normal human interactions, certain foods, sexism. Phone calls, which used to get our ancestors through the day, now make us cringe. “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST TEXT ME?” we ask, in all caps, whenever someone makes the mistake of trying our numbers. “DON’T YOU REALIZE THIS IS TORMENT? I NEED TO BE ABLE TO CURATE MYSELF AND I CAN’T CURATE MYSELF WHILE YOU BREATHE ON THE OTHER END OF THE LINE!”
“What if I start talking right as she starts talking, and then we both stop, and then we both start, and we get trapped in that horrible grating loop forever?” you wonder. “What if someone leaves me a voicemail? To me, ‘I left you a voicemail’ is synonymous with ‘I buried some words deep beneath the ocean where you need never retrieve them.’ ”
But now we have this freedom and, dang it, we have to use it. Somehow.
Maybe I can send a messenger pigeon instead.