A vintage rotary telephone. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The rise and fall of the phone conversation — from the normalizing of "hello" to all of the other formalities taught to kids who grew up with landline telephones — is revisited in a new piece from The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal.

The big picture: Picking up was once commonplace in a home for a ringing telephone. Now, people avoid phone calls and conversations at all costs, for reasons that include alternative options and the rise of telemarketer spam.

The backdrop:
  • The reflex of always answering the phone, something that was so ingrained into people who grew up in the 20th century, is now gone. Madrigal writes: "In the moment when a phone rang, there was an imperative. One had to pick up the phone. This thinking permeated the culture from adults to children."
  • In the telephone's infancy, there were no voice mails, no caller ID, and not even a *69 feature to use to dial the last person who rang. Not too long ago, avoiding a call could mean missing something important — at least until the person called back.
  • But as communication options became more abundant, the need to answer every call has dissipated. Madrigal writes: "Texting is fun, lightly asynchronous, and possible to do with many people simultaneously. It’s almost as immediate as a phone call, but not quite ... So many little dings have begun to make the rings obsolete."
The spam

Spam phone calls have also led more and more people to avoid answering the phone. As years have gone by, robocalls from unknown numbers have become far more frequent.

  • Telemarketers were the spam calls in the 20th century, but they have since been replaced by automation and bots who don't take days off.
  • The FCC has been trying to block robocalls, but there were more than 3.4 billion placed in April 2018 — more than ever before.
  • In modern times, answering a call from an unknown number becomes a guessing game, and sometimes people don't bother guessing at all.
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Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,393,591 — Total deaths: 950,344— Total recoveries: 20,679,272Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,722,699 — Total deaths: 198,484 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.