Remember the crank phone calls? The graffiti in the bathroom stalls? All have been replaced by instant message and internet. However, the desire to remain anonymous is still there.

The death of crank phone calls and our desire to remain anonymous.

Oh those crazy days and nights of the 1970s! It always used to give me a chill when the phone would ring at night. Why would someone want to talk late at night? Was someone hurt? I would pick up the phone, only to hear some heavy breathing or perhaps someone talking dirty to me.

I was just as guilty. Not only would I be on the receiving end of the phone calls, but as a teenager I would make these crank phone calls. There was a thrill in knowing I was talking dirty to someone I didn’t know. I was doing something I knew my parents would not approve of. I was being rebellious and meeting some weird adolescent sexual desire.

But those days are gone. I did receive a “crank” phone call last summer from some girls that sounded as though they were about 10 years old. But it was nothing to really talk about.

Why no crank calls? Caller ID could not have killed the “art” of crank calling. As soon as caller ID came out callers were able to label their phone as a private caller. These private caller’s phone numbers did not display on the receiver’s phone.

Teenagers I’m sure still have the desire to rebel against parents and to anonymously talk about sexual desires.

I think that is the key phrase and why people made crank phone calls to begin with. “To anonymously talk about sexual desires” this phrase not only applies to teenagers but to all people. There is nothing more attractive to a deep animalistic desire than to explain our sexual desires without repercussions and without backlash. We are always afraid of sharing our desires even with our significant others. There is a fear that people will think we are strange, weird or whatever. In the past, I think this was made through crank phone calls. This desire was also fulfilled through graffiti. People (even in ancient Rome) would write “for a good time….” or funny sexual limericks.

People still need to fulfill the desire to anonymously express their sexual desires. However, the internet fulfills this secret need. The birth of Instant Messaging in the early 1990s allowed people to create screen names and to act anonymously. As this IMing and internet use grew, crank calling and bathroom graffiti declined.

I always find it interesting that the human traits and desires never change, just our tools change. We are no different from the Romans painting graffiti on the Forum walls or the perv calling in the middle of the night, we use different tools.

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  • Darlene McFarlane on Aug 24, 2008

    This is a great write up. I find it funny that they put it in Authspot though.

    I made my share of crank calls as a kid too. Mine were not dirty but I had a lot of fun when people took me seriously as I snickered with my hand over the phone so they couldn’t hear me. I think it was as you say, just the idea that you were anonymous and the thought of pulling a fast one on an adult is always special if you are a kid.

  • Lauren Axelrod on Sep 17, 2008

    Who didn’t participate in “prank” calls when they were younger? It was the highlight of the evening sometimes.

  • goodselfme on Sep 19, 2008

    I was a weird teen. I called people and asked if their refrigerator was running? Well if they said yes, I would say “you better catch it because it just ran past my door”.

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