Fandango’s Provocative Question #46

FPQWelcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration. I missed posting last week’s provocative question because I was busy hosting out-of-town guests and didn’t have time to come up with one. But I’m back this week.

Anyway, by provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

I was watching “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last week and he and his sidekick, Guillermo, paid a visit to the New Yorker magazine in an effort to get a cartoon published in the magazine. Neither was successful, but Jimmy came up with this cartoon, which serves as the inspiration for this week’s provocative question.CDAE46BB-E23E-40BF-BDB9-14331575A5F4The cartoon shows a picture of a young man sitting in a jail cell with headphones on. He’s busy using his smartphone when the prison guard apparently advises the guy in the cell that he’s entitled to a phone call. The guy then asks the guard, “What’s a phone call?”

This got me thinking. According to my iPhone’s screen time tracker, I typically spend eight to ten hours a day using that device. But I spend almost zero time talking on the phone. I don’t answer my phone unless I know who’s calling. And these days, I rarely get phone calls from people I know. My adult kids communicate with me exclusively via text messages. On those rare occasions when I use the phone to call them, the usual response I get is, “Why are you calling? Why didn’t you just text me?”

It seems that, increasingly these days, people of all ages are shunning phone calls in favor of chat apps and texting. So my provocative question this week is:

Has using a telephone for making calls become obsolete? For those of you who grew up without the internet or smartphones, is calling and speaking with people on the phone still important? For those of you who grew up only using smartphones, is it necessary to call anyone anymore?

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“What’s that, Daddy?” the eight-year-old boy, pointing to something on the wall, asked his father?

“That’s a pay phone, son,” the father explained.

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for making telephone calls.”

“What’s a telephone call?” the boy asked.

His father laughed. “It’s a device people once used to talk to other people who were somewhere else. You would put money in it to call and speak to them. They could listen to what you said and you could hear them talk.”


“Yes, but that was before text messaging and Twitter made voice telephones obsolete.”

For Friday Fictioneers.