So, after wasting quite a lot of said time interrupting what I'm working on and answering the phone simply to slam it down again in disgust, I attempted to make a few changes.
First, I signed up for caller-id. I actually pay money to the phone company for the "privilege" of knowing who's calling before answering the phone. This really doesn't help very much. Now, instead of having no idea who is calling, I am informed that "No Name," "Name Blocked," or just "1-877-SEL-STUFF" is calling. So, instead of answering the phone just to tell a telemarketer to bugger off, I must endure 5 or 6 rings until voice mail picks up. This is just about as annoying as things were without caller-id considering I still have to run to the phone to see who is calling. Plus I get saddled with the added annoyance of deleting spam voice mails.
Second, I signed up for Anonymous Call Blocking. In theory, this service will answer the phone in my stead if someone calls with their name or phone number blocked. The offending party is told to bugger off and the phone never rings. That's the theory. In reality, my list of annoying phone calls goes down maybe 20%. I just no longer get calls from Mr. Name Blocked. I still get calls from No Name and 1-877-SEL-STUFF and friends. I actually pay for this "service" as well. Silly me.
Don't get me wrong, I don't hate what telephones allow me to do. I don't dislike the convenience of telephones to connect me with friends and family. I'm simply tired of telling myself that the hassles are worth the ability to talk to my friends and family. I want to be able to communicate easily and quickly with the people I care about. I just don't EVER want to be disturbed by anyone that I don't know. I can count on one hand the number of times I was glad to receive an unsolicited phone call. I need a new system.
Here's what I want. I want to be able to contact my friends and family. I want them to be able to contact me. However, if I am busy working, I don't want to be disturbed by a nagging appliance unless there is some form of emergency. In fact, I don't want any "ringing" at all. It would be very pleasant to hear something like, "Sir, your mother is calling, would you like to speak with her?" Whereupon I could answer yes and begin talking or no and she would be switched to voice mail. If the call is marked urgent, I could be told that as well.
I guess I want to extend to telecommunication the features of internet instant messaging. I want a buddy list of friends, acquaintances and important contacts (my child's school, my boss, etc) and I want no one else to be able to bother me. If someone not on the list wishes to contact me, they can leave me voice mail - which will be the only option they will have. I want to have my voice mail transformed into text and emailed to me (to my private spam free email address of course) so that I can follow up later if it seems important.
I also want to rid myself of the actual telephone device itself. The entire receiver microphone torture device is so incredibly awkward and primitive. I would much rather wear an ear-piece/lapel microphone everywhere I go. Perhaps this combination can eventually be embedded in clothing or jewelry. To this end I want an end to the distinction of "home" phone and "cell" phone. Let's just forget the phone. Give me a completely unobtrusive communication device that works where ever I am.
Interestingly, the technology for almost all of this exists today. Now that wireless access to the 'net is popping up everywhere, I am beginning to see the eventual demise of the telephone. I guess that there must already be people using this technology since most of the major instant messenger players allow for voice communication. Fire up your laptop at your local Starbucks, plug in your earpiece/microphone and start chatting. Someone just needs to create a version for the wireless enabled PDA's and complete the end run around the phone companies.
I predict that within 5 years most high school and college students will communicate exclusively this way and since most universities include wireless access with tuition, the students won't be paying a penny to talk for hours to their friends in Rhode Island or Tokyo. The tech-savvy amongst the rest of the population will quickly follow suit and as soon as sub-$100 wireless enabled PDAs with this feature hit the market, the rest of the population will follow. In 15 years telephones will be a distant memory.