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3 min read 7 comments

Never pick up the phone? You're on the right side of history

If you are like me, the sound of your phone ringing means one thing: a company is trying to hassle you. A new study estimates that by next year, almost half of all calls will be spam. How did the art of the phone call die?

The data, which comes via First Orien Corporation, a spam call filter provider, is not exactly surprising. Most people I know panic when their phone rings, and answering to an unknown or hidden number seems like an act of lunacy.

What is shocking though, is the speed at which spam has increased its market share in terms of phone calls in the US. In 2017, 3.7% of all calls were spam. That number rose to 29.2% in 2018. The company now estimates that in 2019 the figure will be 44.56%. That’s an enormous leap in just three years. So how did it happen?

Diversification of instant communication mediums

The reason that the percentage of spam calls is rising so quickly has to be down to a lack of competition. I suspect that the number of spam calls we are receiving is not drastically different today than it was in 2017, but the plummeting number of non-spam calls Americans are making is what is causing the balance to swing.

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Nokia brought back the 3310 in 2017. It was a nostalgia trip. / © AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Think back to a time when phone calls were the quickest, most effective way to get hold of someone quickly. It doesn’t feel like that long ago. I began texting on good old SMS in the late 90s. I was 13 when I got my first Nokia 3210 and a pay-as-you-go SIM. Before the Nokia, I knew the landline numbers for all of my friends by heart. Immediately, the landline became a back up for when I’d used up my free SMS allowance. Today, the only phone number I know by heart is my own.

The lost art of the phone call

I am trying to remember the last time I made or received a call, and I am struggling. Like most people, I use multiple apps and services to stay in touch with friends and family. For me, the percentage of calls I receive that could be classed as spam is close to 100%. I know I am not alone here. We have more ways to communicate now than ever before, and the diversification has made the process more optimized. The phone call has been replaced because the alternatives are more specialized.

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Video calling has replaced traditional landlines for many families. / © AndroidPIT

The art of phone conversation may be facing extinction, but should we be mourning it? The death of the phone call is often used to criticize a generation that prefers to communicate through their fingers rather than their mouths. It’s easy to buy into this idea that modern communication is somehow dumbed down, as though emojis and LOLZ have replaced words and conversation. But as video calling is becoming more prominent, there is an argument that Skype, FaceTime, Duo and others have made calls even more human than the telephone. What’s more, video calling is, for now at least, cold-calling free.

When was the last time you made a phone call? And what do you think about the trend away from traditional calling to more varied avenues of communication? Let us know in the comments.

7 comments

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  • Very similar - I have unlimited call allowance but at most I make half dozen calls.
    I receive even fewer, but Spam was a huge issue until samsung signed up Hiya call blocking.
    If a company wants my attention then cold calling is probably the worst thing to do.

    Unfortunately the spamers are getting creative - using mobile numbers or private numbers (illegally).

    What is more concerning is when you genuinely sign up with a service or app and provide your mobile number - within hours there is a new tranche of Spam.

    So now I complete app registrations using fake details (unless it's 100% necessary for the app to have my details). I certainly don't give out my correct date of birth.

    It used to be a landline problem, now that mobile calls are being blocked I predict WhatsApp and Messenger will be next - especially when FB moves advertising onto these services and platforms.

    Already shopping services are using Messenger or WhatsApp to provide a "enhanced service" with purchase updates - Once they have the go-ahead to sell our messaging data we will be flooded again with spam and Fraud.

    Peace 🖖


    • I've sort of kind of been doing that for years. If it is a "one off" thing I might buy in a store, or online, when they start asking for my phone number I give them my old non active landline number. Date of birth, off one day & one year. Address is my work address. Zip code is always wrong too. And if they want an email address, they get my hotmail (It's called outlook now) address, which on mine still ends in @hotmail.com.
      It's flippin' funny when they say we never give out the info, and 1-2 days later, the junk mail folder in my hotmail box fills up.


  • I rarely ever get spam calls any more. After one or two, activate Calls Blacklist (Vlad Lee) app, which limits calls - and/or SMS - to listed contacts. Generally a few days blocking is enough to stop unwanted callers. ("Blacklisting" is a waste of my time, since professional nuisances don't use the same number twice, and nobody I personally know wants smashmouth.) When illegality or nastiness is suspected, I've reported the contact information to police Crime Stoppers via its online form. I also use Skype for some long out of country family calls that would be very expensive on the phone plan.


  • Mark
    • Admin
    4 weeks ago Link to comment

    I much prefer calling than texting, I would say I am 75/25% calling to texting. I might text more if it where easier for me but with 2xl glove sized hands typing with thumbs like most people do is impossible for me.


    • Dictate your texts. My job involves working with the blind community and they text all the time and never use a keyboard for the obvious reason. There is a bit of inaccuracy at the start but the more you use speech-to-text the more accurate it gets. AI is good.


  • I'm "old school" (well old anyway, almost 59). I still use the phone on an average of 1500-2000 minutes per month, along with a few dozen text, emails and a lot of web usage during the day for work. At night, when I get home, I rarely touch it unless someone calls.
    I use a blocking program, which is pretty good at catching some, but with the cheats using spoofing, it's pretty simple. If you aren't on my contact list, I just swipe to the left, on my watch. If it is important, they will leave a voicemail. If not, then it goes on my block list. I get probably 10-20 junk/spam calls per month on my phone.
    One of the reasons I got a smartwatch this year, was so I could cut down the amount of reaching in my belt clip case for the phone. Less I touch it, the less it could get dropped LOL.


  • storm 4 weeks ago Link to comment

    I hate calls, even legit ones. Text or email are preferable to me.

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