A few weeks ago I opened my front door to find a bag with my new phone book in it sitting on my porch. I picked it up and walked the entire bag straight to my recycling bin, dropped it in, and walked away. I have no use for a phone book. My computer is almost always on and if it is not, my cell phones are, and it is easier and faster to look up information online. In fact, most of the time, I can find the information I need online without actually having to make a phone call! It is brilliant – I don’t ever have to have a human interaction or worry about being disappointed by poor customer service and terrible phone etiquette. Which begs the question: why are phone books still printed AND distributed it at all? Why can’t I at least opt out of this waste?
Slate.com is thinking about this to–check it out for a history on phone books. Phone book usage really comes down to generational differences:
“Ask anyone under 30 about phone books, though, and you might as well inquire about Victrola needles. The Yellow Pages Association claims that even young households use them when the occasion—a wedding, for instance—demands reliable listings. But printed phone books are a maturing industry, with only about six in 10 businesses and individuals still regularly relying on them. Yet even as directories hemorrhage content to the Web and to unlisted cell numbers, enough oldsters—those, say, who still recall physically dialing numbers in a rotary motion—continue using them enough to keep profits rolling in. In other words, you remaining four in 10 recipients can expect a lot more doorstops and spider-smashers in your future.”
“The phone book’s most fervent users these days are the cult of young YouTubers who, left with piles of directories that only their parents and professors could want, demonstrate the old parlor trick of ripping a phone book in half. (It’s harder than tearing an apple but probably easier than rolling up frying pans.) A fat Yellow Book is also perfect for punking dorm mates—this video by Tufts students has achieved phone-book infamy—or just for pummeling them. But it’s a throwaway comment in the Tufts prank that deals the most punishing blow of all: ‘They must not have gotten the memo about phone books not being useful anymore.’”
Check out some of the more entertaining phone book uses: