19 October 2007

Leave a message at the beep...

Do you remember ye ole days when if someone wasn't home their phone just rang and rang? Or if they were speaking to someone you just heard a busy signal and oh well, you'd have to try again later.

What about the days when once you left your house for the day, you were 100% unreachable unless YOU decided to call someone from a payphone; and you could only do that if you had memorised their number... We didn't just gab on the phone because we were bored.

Well for as much as technology has shrunk our wild world it has also turned most of us into mysophobic, agoraphobic anthropophobes by default.

Now that we're all so goddamn attainable and reachable 24-hours a day, no one wants to talk to anyone; me, included. It's like someone turned on the lights and now we're all running for some place to hide.

I remember falling in love with a few old postcards I'd found at a shop in Bakersfield, California. They were seemingly sent betwixt two lovers; one was on a cruise and she wrote of her return date; asking her man to meet her at so-and-so hotel, two weeks from then at four o'clock in the afternoon. Is that not the most romantic shit you have ever heard in your life?! I mean, where would I even start with the reasons why that postcard simply melted my soul.

I used to love riding on the subway because for my trip (save for those pesky bridges) I knew I was off the grid; unreachable; mysterious, at last! It's not easy being enigmatic in 2007; you've gotta push against the grain, baby.

I've dropped off the social networking grid; my cell phone only makes - are you ready for this? - phone calls!!; no pictures, no email, no internet; I still try to send hand written letters when I can, I churn my own butter, stomp out my own Riesling, etc.

AOL is about as hi-tech as I get and AOL is as hi-tech as 1994 so, fuck off.

If I could, I'd probably live in a shack in Montana (with a wrap around porch, of course) with no phone, no nothing. Just my girl and my dog and some fancy cheese. And maybe a pet cow and a cherry tree.

So, have you ever prayed someone wouldn't answer their phone; you just wanna leave them a message but don't really feel like talking to them for real? If you're a schizo sociopath like me then you probably have and then you may be down with some of these new voicemail services I came across... which are all great because they all basically use super advanced technology to make you less available; they counteract the hyper-attainability of our cellular world.

As if now that we are standing at the threshold of The Promised Land, we're inventing ways to turn around and run. I love it!

OK, so first up is Pinger. Pinger is a hands free alternative to text messaging. Lets say if someone is "in a meeting and you don’t want to bother them" (a/k/a you don't wanna actually talk to so-and-so, you just wanna leave them a message), you can “ping” them, by leaving a voicemail on their cell phone number; their phone won't even ring, it will just tell them they have a message out of nowhere. Perfect! Why risk them picking up the phone and actually having to converse?! Plus, the Pinger site lets you check if they picked up your message. I love it. Nothing like having an entire conversation without ever actually speaking to anyone!

Then there's YouMail: YouMail is a service that takes over the voicemail service from the carrier and routes it to their servers where you can pick up your voicemail in the usual way, or have it emailed it to you, and of course you can store it all forever. Remember that time a girl actually liked you and left a hot message about it? Well now you can be the man forever and replay it on those cold, lonely nights.

The nicest feature of Youmail is the fun library of greetings that you can use to set up your outgoing greeting individually, by user. Sort of like how you can personalise ringers so you can identify who's calling by the ringtone. You can also add a “This phone is disconnected” message for people you don’t want to hear from! or use their famous “Ditchmail” for unwelcome suitors. Perfecto!

There are also a myriad services for the super lazy sociophobes that will translate your voice into a text message or email. This may sound like the fucking Jetsons but its actually rather retarded and is much faster to just type it out. But if you're into that sort of shit Jott and CallWave are supposed to be among the best.


Anonymous said...

"Just my girl and my dog and some fancy cheese. And maybe a pet cow and a cherry tree". Hmmmm, sounds perfect ;)

Anonymous said...

man, u really hit home with me. I've been thinkin lately that it's not so much that it's possible for anyone to reach you anytime but that these days it's expected that you make yourself available in said fashion. As for youmail, I'm a huge fan. the ditch thing is perfect for those people you never want to hear from again.