Opinion: Putting cancel culture behind me


Marc Allan is a good friend, and until recently, we talked about four times a day. True, I was the one who always called him, but I don’t really keep track of stuff like that. However, I think now the relationship may be over. I have deleted him from my contact list.

Not sure why, but Marc was the recipient of every butt-dial call I made. It got to the point that when Marc answered the phone, he’d say: “Is this an intentional call? Do you have something to actually say to me?” After bothering him so many times, I prepared for this embarrassing situation in case it happened again.

“Hi, Dick. What’s up?”

“Oh, hi. Marc? I called to er … um … is that Fred the Mastodon exhibit still on display? I’ve been thinking about coming to see it.”

Marc, who is the director of communication at the Indiana State Museum, knew I had no interest in mastodons. But he asked me to mention in this column their new exhibit featuring Indiana’s best artists — to pay him back for pestering him four times a day and for allowing me to use his real name in this story.

I asked some of my techie friends how I could avoid making these unintentional calls. One suggested that Marc’s last name begins with an A, and the phone automatically calls the first name on my contact list when I sit on the device. That’s when I deleted his contact info. About an hour later, the phone rang.

“Dick, it’s Ashley at Nationwide Insurance. Are you OK?”

“Yes, why do you ask?”

“You called me three times this morning but didn’t speak. Have you been in an accident?”

“Kind of. I rear-sended Marc Allan several times yesterday.”

Ashley asked why I was now calling her. I explained that she was next on my contact list alphabetically and that unless I spent the rest of my life standing up, she could possibly be hearing from me several times a day. She requested that I delete her from my contacts, as well.

“Wait, what will I do if I really need to call you?” I asked.

“How about changing my name to Zelda?”

I’ve never had a problem like this with anyone else. Berl, my college newspaper editor, never got a butt-dial call from me. Neither have my nephew, Barry, or my best friend, Bob. I decided to sit down and think about this. But just when I got comfortable, I heard my phone start dialing. This was frustrating. I had no idea who I had accidentally called, but I quickly fished the phone out of my back pocket to be ready for whoever answered.

I was pretty sure their name would start with the letter B.