SURRATT: Surviving in the world of the cellphone

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 14, 2023

I have a cellphone.

In this day and age, that is not news; practically everyone has a cellphone. I say practically because there may still be some diehards out there who still cling to the ways of the dial and touchtone telephone and don’t own a computer.

But in these times of rapid and instant communication and our obsession with moving the latest gossip foreword as soon as possible, the cellphone — whether it’s a flip phone or the latest smartphone that is connected to the GOES weather satellite and can dial a phone number on verbal command — is essential.

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We call people from our cars, living rooms and bathrooms; we call in the middle of the night when our intended target is asleep. We text people about where we’re eating lunch and make small talk. We set up streams — group texts or emails that allow us to reach multiple people in a matter of seconds with “hot” information, whether someone on the “stream” is interested or not, and not even the intended recipient.

And our friends and co-workers aren’t the only people who have access to our numbers and emails. Hundreds, thousands of companies, scammers and phishers have access to our number and use the now popular robocall to reach our phones will all kinds of calls and threatening texts.

At least once a month I get a text threatening to close my Netflix account — which I don’t have — if I don’t call some number that will obviously ask me to send money in the form of a prepaid VISA. Last month I received two international calls from the Netherlands (for you geographically challenged, that’s Holland) leaving me a message about my Netflix account.

My wife gets text messages about the Amazon account she doesn’t have and numerous calls leaving her messages about Medicare Advantage policies. We’re both on Medicare and we’re happy with what we have and it ain’t an Advantage Plan.

For some reason, some junk callers seem to think I’m my daughter. I keep getting text messages for her from political organizations, which I quickly ended by telling them, “This isn’t Kim’s phone.”

The other day, I got a text for my daughter telling her how great it was to talk with her about her health insurance needs. The fact that she is not looking to purchase health insurance inspired me to block the call. Last night, I was notified by the call block app on my phone that five spam calls were blocked. No doubt these were further attempts to get my daughter to buy insurance.

The problem with the robocalls and spam texts is so bad now that I’ve adopted the policy: if I don’t know who’s calling or sending me something, the number is blocked and then moved to the important file on my phone. If a phone call is that important, someone will leave a message.

But all the complaining aside, our phones have become valuable tools as we learn to adapt to an ever-changing world and society. They have value but must be used wisely. Now, you’ll have to excuse me; I’ve just received a text about my American Express account that I don’t have.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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