Longing for The Days of The Party Line essay

The article, Longing For the Days of The Party Line, retells the simplicity of life practiced by the people in the olden times. Long before the evolution of high-end cellular phones, people in Minnesota shared a single telephone line. Each home was entitled to be part of the party line, which was separated through their unique ring. The wife of the phone company, Mrs. Gerner, served as the operator. She made sure that the calls reached the right people. In addition to this, Mrs. Gerner also made calls to the neighbors, that served as their bulletin for announcements and reminders.

Phones in the olden times served as a simple means of communication with other people. Instead of walking to the neighbor’s house, a call may be made, and interaction may still take place. I believe that the phone lines of the olden times served their purpose, more than the highly technological phones of the present. Article author, Dewey Olson (2005) also wrote the following: Their family phone included in a party line, like everyone else in town was. Before they could use the phone to call a friend or a neighbor, they had listen to any human voice so as not to interrupt with the people talking on the phone.

(p. 20) Phone lines of the olden times have definitely served their purpose, far more than the phones of the present. This may be clearly attributed to the fact that people before lived a more simple lifestyle. Each family was entitled to only one phone, and each town had to share the same line. There were no cellular phones, nor was the internet available for use. People had to patiently wait, before they could make their calls. Camaraderie was practiced, and the simple announcements and reminders the operator would give their users, were enough social exposure for the people.

However, the technological advancements of the present have made phones a necessity. People were given the opportunity to acquire their own private line, with no operator to connect their call. They can call whoever they want anytime they felt like. From the simple box with the turning crank, phone calls can now be made with a push of a button. More media can also be stored in the phones, making them more marketable to consumers. Furthermore, these advancements have diverted from the real purpose of the telephones, and eventually led to the abolition of the phone operators.

The technological changes have since made it possible for people to air their concerns to phone companies. Automated voice messages are heard by the consumers, which give instructions and directing them to their respective departments. Consumers soon forget the real reason why they made the call. These advancements have shifted the simple purpose of using the telephone in communicating with people, into building communication barriers among consumers and their peers. The changes that have been visible over the past few years have definitely contributed to how phones are used nowadays.

From being the primary means of communication, phones nowadays have become more commercialized. Media found its own way of manipulating people, causing communication barriers among its consumers. Phones have once served its primary purpose of bridging gaps and removing communication barriers, allowing people to interact with their peers in a very simple way. More advancements will cause the people to forget the real purpose as to why phones were invented.


Olson, D. (2005, June 13). Longing for the days of the party line. Newsweek. 20.