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Downton Abbey (tv program)
Call me maybe, or better yet text
Call me maybe, or better yet text

In the second season of the BBC soap-drama “Downton Abbey,” telephone service arrives at the house. The year is 1914, and not everyone is enthusiastic about the new technology. Struggling to conduct a conversation, an addled dowager countess finally gives up, turns to her granddaughter and asks, “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?” For all her fusty Victorianism, the dowager was actually 100 years ahead of her time. After a centurylong reign as the world's foremost communication device, the telephone — or at least the landline — has again become a source of dread and annoyance. Data released last summer from the Centers for Disease...

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