Observations Vol. XXVI

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By Chris Cosci

Every once in a while, I question whether the standards of society could get any lower. When this thought hits me, something comes along that not only lowers the standards, but digs a hole underneath so that there's room for them to go down even further.

The latest sign I have seen of sociological Armageddon is something called The Rejection Line. The Rejection Line is the brainchild (or should I say lack-of-brainchild) of two siblings from California (where else?) who moved to New York City (again, where else?). Apparently, these hipsters led quite a busy life when they first moved, attending party after party and making dozens of acquaintances. The problem? They gave their phone number to all these people and then got upset when their phone would ring off the hook.

Now, plain logic would give you the obvious answer - stop giving out your phone number to everyone you meet. This was not their solution. Instead, they thought it would be a good idea to set up a new phone number that they would hand out to people. When people call that number, they get a voice mail that rejects them nicely - a rejection line.

What you have here is two people who find it so hard to say no, they had to find a solution that would not require one-to-one communication. So they came up with something totally impersonal and thoughtless.

I know that some people give out fake phone numbers. Personally, I think it's ruder and more insensitive than just being honest with the person. Picture this scenario: a generally nice guy starts talking with a woman at a bar. He asks for her phone number and she gives him one. Not wanting to seem to pushy, he waits a few days, then calls her up for a date. Imagine how much worse it is for him after days of planning to find out he was rejected when she could have easily just told him in person.

Anyway, that's not entirely my point - although I did want to point it out. What really bothers me is how much this idea has escalated. Okay, so these people set up their own little phone number. Big deal. What happened, though, was that the people they handed this number out to actually loved the messages. Soon, the phone number was passed around and THAT phone number started ringing off the hook with people listening to the messages. Normally, this would be a satisfyingly ironic ending. Unfortunately, it turns ugly.

For some unknown reason, investors stepped in and started funding this phone line. They pitched new angles and brought in new ideas. Among these brilliant ideas, listed prominently on the web site, are to use the phone number to "write on bathroom walls" and "leave as a mysterious and sexy voicemail." So, not only are they helping people become more insensitive, they are also promoting vandalism and phone harassment.

And it gets worse. Forbes magazine has recently estimated the value of this operation at (grab something for support) nearly 7 billion dollars. That's BILLION with a "B." These two California clods, who were so shallow they had to hire other people to reject people for them, are worth 7 billion dollars. They've quit their jobs and live in the lap of luxury.

I find it quite upsetting that two people can capitalize so successfully on such an anti-social idea. Currently, this is only available in New York. If we're really lucky - it will stay there.