‘I’ ON CULTURE
I hate my telephone this time of the year. We all know about the “do not call” list, and we all pretty much know how much the law is ignored. So, like everyone else, I get used to all the fun, somewhat illegal, calls.
My favorites are the ones where someone, who always has a very American name but an East Asian accent, tells you that they work for Microsoft and they know you have a bug in your operating system, which they can take care of if you just let them take over your computer. It would be cheaper to just give them your computer forever if you agree, since they’ll be wandering through your bank account before you take another breath.
And then we have the “we’re in the neighborhood and one of your friends suggested we call you” because they have a service you might want. Of course my friends know I already have a security alarm and no carpeting but, hey, what’s an illegal call among friends?
We also have the charmers who call you with urgent news about your credit card. They quickly tell you that the only problem is that you are paying a rate that is far too high and they have a great bargain for you. Chances are that interest will be free for a few months, then go way up.
But we get used to the fun from all of these calls. After all, they wake us if we want to sleep in, interrupt assorted important jobs, and are great flim-flams.
But this is the season of political robo-calls. There really is nothing like watching a television show or movie at home only to have it interrupted by someone who really wants to tell you how horrible one of the candidates truly is and why you should vote for his or her opponent. Even worse, even if you decide not to pick up the phone, they leave a voice message. And there are so many of them!
The nastiness is truly appalling. And during primary season, they are far worse than during the national election. That stems from the fact that most people of one party or the other generally have somewhat similar beliefs. If both candidates agree on just about all major issues, their campaigns really get dirty. We might recall that the original Willie Horton idea (that a convicted rapist was let out of prison and then continued his crimes), flung against Democratic candidate Mike Dukakis in 1988, was actually first brought in the primaries by fellow Democrat Al Gore. Hearing such charges thrown by people who will be endorsing the target the day after the primaries is nauseating.
Even worse, when you have your home voicemail service through Comcast, you can’t delete a message until you listen all the way through. If there are five messages, I have to listen to a lot of nonsense to find out if I have a real message.
Unfortunately, these messages are from the really committed (some of whom probably should be committed) and are horribly over-earnest and over-verbalized. Last Saturday, we got calls dealing with the presidential election… already.
The first came from a labor union and called Donald Trump the anti-Christ who will take America to dictatorship. About two hours later I got another call, this one from a church group that said that Donald Trump was fighting the good fight against the anti-Christ, Hillary Clinton.
Each call (and they were on voicemail) lasted more than five minutes and made me wonder if I should not think of moving to another country. I did have the stray thought that if I could get the people from both phone calls on the line together, I could have a really fun debate.
The problem is that I, like many other people, are getting to resent the invasion of our peace that their calls create. Comcast should create a way to get rid of these calls at any time so we don’t have to listen. Another alternative would be to be able to charge (even a penny) for having to deal with them. That might cut down the calls.
The U.S. Constitution (well, at least the Supreme Court) holds that privacy is a right. Make the politicians (and the flim-flam artists) return our peace and quiet.