Tuesday, May 16, 2006

When I was your age, we didn't have caller ID!

Someday I hope to say that to my kids.

I remember the days when the phone would ring and you'd have no idea who was calling: a telemarketer, your spouse, a client or a complete stranger.

It made answering the phone exciting. Surprising. Even fun!

Then, in 1988 when the first caller ID hit the market, everything changed. Someone would pick up the receiver and hear, "Hey Karen!" and Karen would think, "Wait, how the hell did you know it was me?!"

"Oh, we have caller ID. I knew it was you," says Karen's friend.

And so, caller ID changed the entire scope of communicating on the phone in the following ways:

  • Instead of having to take every call, now with caller ID, you could screen callers and only talk to the people you wanted to (or whose numbers you recognized)

  • Instead of getting excited every time the phone rang, you'd roll your eyes when you saw it was your college roommate, Steve (and not your biggest customer ready to reorder) and say, "Eh, hey Dave..."

    I've been meaning to blog about this issue for a few years now. And I guess it wasn't until I recently moved office locations (where my new phone does NOT have caller ID) that I started thinking about it.

    When I first moved in, I was a bit annoyed. I was so used to caller ID! I even considered returning my phone to Target and exchanging it for an updated model.

    But now, I gotta say: I kinda like it. It's only been a few weeks, but every time that phone rings, I get excited! Is it someone calling to book a speech? A friend from California I haven't talked to in months? Or could it be my old stalker Stephan calling to freak me out again?

    It rules.

    Now, do I think the world would be better without caller ID? Not necessarily. It certainly serves its purpose(s). But I think communication is about consistency. And maybe answering the phone the exact same way for every caller (the way we used to do it) is the way it should be.


    How does caller ID affect your phone communication?

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    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag