Saturday, June 9, 2018

Still Life with Robin: What's Worse Than Robo-calling?

Photo by Damian Yerrick (Wikimedia Creative Commons)
by Peggy Robin

The DC Primary election is on June 19 and that means we are smack-dab in the middle of political robo-calling season. A long, long time ago, I took a holy vow never to vote for any candidate who would send an invasive, inhuman, mechanical voice into my home phone system to attempt to influence my vote.

That vow was observed for all of one election cycle. The very next election season, I was dismayed to find every single candidate for major office -- and quite a few running for minor ones,too -- using this tactic. If I stuck to the vow, I would never vote for anyone. So much for that.

You might assume the solution to this problem is to get a robo-call-blocking program such as NomoRobo. Well, I did that. But after a while, I gave it up, for the following reasons:

1. Sometimes a robocall would trigger half-ring and then stop. This was very annoying.
2. I worried that under certain circumstances I might be notified about something important by robo-call but would not be able to receive the call. The robo-call-blocking program is supposed to recognize and permit a doctor’s reminder robo-call to come through….but I found myself anxious that I would miss one of these calls.
3. Some family members reported trying to call me but having their calls cut off at the first half-ring. Phone tech experts assured me that the robo-call-blocking program could not be the culprit, but I couldn't help but put the two things together: the problem arose only after I signed on with NomoRobo. With worries number one and two already troubling me, this was the final straw and I terminated my use of the program.

For the first few years after quitting NomoRobo, I think I got just a few robo-calls a week. Over the years the number has crept up. Now I get several a day. So I have adopted a policy of never picking up the phone unless a recognizable name and number appears on the Caller ID. This has been a good strategy and I am content to stick with it. If I fail to recognize a friend's number, the friend always leaves me a message and I can call back. So I have found a tolerable way to live in a robo-calling world, even during election season.

Until yesterday. That's when I learned there's something more annoying than robo-calling out there. And what is this thing I hate more than the robo-call?

It's the ROBO-TEXT.

Yes, my phone text messaging system has been discovered and invaded by a text message from a slate of candidates who are after my vote. It's a local race but I won't name the culprits. Maybe they're not the only ones doing it. I just worry that this is the beginning of a whole new and even more intrusive trend. And there's not even a Nomo-Robo-Text service to join if things start to get out of hand!

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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