Decluttering: Losing the Land Line

Today is the first day where we haven't had an actual "land line" in our house. It's a little strange, but it's something that's been coming for a long time now, and I'm chalking it up to my recent decluttering spree.

We've had various iterations of land line phones in our house for as long as I can remember. From Michigan Bell (aka: "Ma Bell" to Ameritech, to AT&T, to Wide Open West (aka WOWWay), to a ZTE Cell-to-home-phone adapter, back to WOWWay; we've had at least some way of picking up a phone that wasn't a cell phone (or directly a cell phone) and make a call. Unfortunately over the years we've moved more to using our cell phones for calling. Also our land line phone calls were almost 99.99% unsolicited calls. Only a handful of folks have our home phone. Most of them have my Google Voice number. So the advantages of having a land line phone have diminished greatly. Also it seems that phone companies are more about having wireless phone systems rather than having traditional wired connections. I don't blame them: the infrastructure for wired phones is costly compared with using radios. That and anything with a wire on it is considered old fashioned and moribund. That said, I've had the clearest phone calls with wired phone technology, but the time has come to leave that all behind.

I'd like to say that I was proactive about this, but truth-be-told it was WOWWay that did in our phone. When we switched to a speedier plan we somehow lost our phone in the shuffle. Several calls to WOWWay proved fruitless (convincing their technicians that it's a problem on their end proved rather fruitless, and most times they just reset the modem to no avail). Faced with having a technician come out to do some ungodly diagnosis for an hour or more (which, with our schedules is proving to be even more difficult than usual) we asked the hard question:

"Do we still need a land line?"

The answer was pretty clear: no, we don't need it. We're paying $20.00 a month for something that brings us very little joy at the moment (and isn't working). It spends most of its time bringing us unwanted crap, and the rest of the time it serves a purpose that we're already paying handsomely for with other devices. It's redundant. True, redundancy can be important, but at the moment it's not even serving that. We can safely get rid of it. Sure, cell phones are not as comfortable to use as land line phones, but the benefits outweigh the downsides. The infrastructure for cell phones has caught up to land line phones. Worse AT&T charges my parents a ridiculous amount for their shitty service because AT&T no longer wants to be in the land line business. They'd rather chase the lucrative wireless market instead. A different solution is warranted for my parents (their cell phones are kinda terrible) but for us it makes sense to drop the land line for good.

And this is at the heart of decluttering: keep the essential and lose the non-essential. The land line used to be essential, but now it no longer serves its intended function. It's not the main line of communication for us. It's an added expense. Worse, it took WOWWay disconnecting it for us to realize that we don't need it. Sometimes we need that little push to really think about what matters in our lives and what needs to keep being a part of them.

This continues to be an iterative process for me but I'm already liking the results. More to come.