Business: The Rising Toll of the Telephone Hang-Up

PRESUMABLY Marshall McLuhan did not intend to spread alarm when he described communications networks as "extensions of our physical and nervous systems." What happens when that central extension, the telephone network, shows symptoms of a nervous breakdown? For a distressing number of months, it has. When there should be a dial tone, all too often there is only silence or a snap, crackle and pop. Sometimes a call connects to someone else's conversation. The epitaph for much of 1970 America could be "Sorry, the number that you have dialed is not a working number."

Probably the most bizarre experience was that of...

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