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Borta Blog: Death Of The Dial Tone

Karen Borta-2013 Karen Borta
Karen is a veteran journalist who joined CBS 11 News in 1995. Prior to...
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I’ve always known there would be aspects of my childhood to which my children would be completely unable to relate.

They’ve never known life without a microwave; they’re unable to fathom what a TV might be like if it didn’t have eight billion channels and some sort of remote control; the world has always existed with home computers and cell phones.

But I was completely floored by the collective extent of their ignorance when, last week, I tried to help them figure out why our internet wasn’t working.

To understand where I’m going with this, you have to know that we’re one of those families whose phone, TV, and internet services are sort of bundled together, and if one of the services is down chances are the others will be, too.

I happened to be away from the house when the calamity of the internet failure befell the household. My oldest, the 15-year-old, called me from his cell phone to get me to help fix the problem.

The first thing I wanted to know was whether all of the services were down, or if it was just the internet. When I asked him if the cordless phones were working, he told me he didn’t know.

I asked him to check to see if there was a dial tone. That’s when he asked me, “What’s a dial tone?”

I couldn’t really do much except blink at that. What’s a dial tone? What’s a DIAL TONE? And for the life of me, I had the hardest time describing to my honors student what a dial tone actually is.

Needless to say, my daughters were just as clueless as their brother, and all I could wonder was how my husband and I could possibly think about setting them loose upon the world with such a serious low-tech deficiency.

My new mission is to educate them so they’ll one day be able to converse intelligently about such archaic things as: typewriters, cassette and 8-track tapes, flash bulbs, and telephone books. And somewhere in there, I’ll explain the dial tone, too.

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