Turcotte: When was the last time you…?

When was the last time you rang a doorbell?

It’s been a while for me. I didn’t even know my apartment had a doorbell until one day my mom pressed it before letting herself in. The cat was equally as stunned as she froze in place, eyes wide and ears back at the intruding sound. 

I hadn’t thought much about doorbells before that day. They’ve been replaced by cell phones, much like many other things. Like most of my friends, when I get to where I’m going, I send an “I’m here” text and wait for the door to open. 

Doorbells seem to be reserved for solicitors and trick-or-treaters. 

They’re almost obsolete.

The doorbell isn’t unique in that way. 

I don’t own an iron, a phone book, or a map. 

We all noticed the death of our beloved video stores, but did we notice phone booths quietly slipping away? Occasionally I’ll see the remnants of one. The door will be missing and the phone broken. My 12-year-old nephew once asked me what they were used for. 

Does anyone balance a checkbook anymore? Does anyone use checks for anything but paying rent? I don’t even bring cash to tip my hairdresser now that apps like Venmo and Paypal are popular. 

Landlines have stuck around, likely because it’s cheaper to bundle phone, internet and cable than it is to pay for two of the three. But most people I know don’t plug a phone into the wall because they don’t want it to ring. 

Cable’s next.

People want to watch what they want, when they want to watch it. We’re a society that needs instant gratification. With services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go, viewers can do that for a fraction of the price of watching shows when they air on cable.

But are we ready to give up the smell of an old book to read the digital version on a Nook or Kindle? Or the gurgling sound an iron makes as it presses the wrinkles from our clothes? 

The jingling of change in your pocket?

I’m a unique breed. All journalists are. 

I pursued a career in reporting despite watching the decline of the popularity of newspapers throughout most of my childhood. Now in my mid-20s, I still prefer to feel the pages and hold the product in my hand rather than reading stories online. It makes me sad to realize that most children growing up today don’t know how to fold a newspaper.

So maybe the next time the doorbell rings, I’ll answer it. Even if it’s just to tell the person on the other side of the door that I’m not interested. 


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