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Next robo-call will come too soon

Taped voices make topics irrelevant

By The Mercury

We’re not big fans of robo-calls. They’re a nuisance, and that’s putting it nicely.

That’s true whether the taped voice on the other end of the line is peddling Caribbean cruises or extolling the virtues of a particular candidate.

Thus we were unpleasantly surprised this week by a robo-call from a group called Citizens for a Moderate Manhattan pushing a slate of unidentified candidates —  unidentified — for the Manhattan City Commission. If residents answering that particular robo-call have been paying attention to the election, they would be expected to know the “moderates” from the “extremists” without needing names.

We wonder why anyone would listen to this or just about any other robo-call. Boredom, perhaps. It’s time you don’t get back. You can’t conduct a conversation with Robo, which means you can’t tell it to get off your phone and out of your life. And if you’re delighted to have heard from Robo and want to buy what it is selling or be contacted by a genuine person, your recourse is to press a button on your phone.

Maybe in this world, one increasingly dominated by Twitter and other forms of communication involving keyboards, our political campaigns will be increasingly conducted by machines rather than by actual people. That would be unfortunate. For better or for worse, do-not-call policies generally exempt political solicitations. We’d settle for a ban on robo-calls.

We want to continue to assume that when the phone rings, someone — not some thing — wants to talk to us. (No, we don’t enjoy cruise solicitations from real people, but we can at least get the satisfaction of telling them so.)

We like to consider the phone a point of contact with real people. And we like to think that anyone who calls is either a friend or a relative who knows his or her call will be welcome or is a stranger who believes we’ll consider what he or she has to say important enough to interrupt us. Robo-calls fall well short of those criteria.

Just as we answer the phone when it rings, we’ll answer the door when someone knocks.  No doubt one day there’ll be a robot there wondering why we hung up when it called.

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