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Culture & Religion

Fixed Phone Funeral

“I don’t know why the telephone, the analog landline telephone, was never formally mourned.” Virginia Heffernan remembers when phones actually worked.

“What a many-splendored experience it once was to talk on the phone. You’d dial a number, rarely more than seven digits, typically known by heart and fingers. You’d refrain from calling after 9 p.m. or ‘during dinner’; there were many ideas of politeness around phones, and those ideas helped people pretend that the emotional chaos telephones fostered by all that ungoverned, nonpresentational, mouth-to-ear speech—like whispering across great distances—didn’t exist. You’d endure the long brrrings with a pleasant stirring of nerves, a little stage fright.”


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