Editorial: A Call for Help

The global epidemic of drunk dialing continues to spread.

According a groundbreaking story in The Village Voice ‘Education Supplement,’ Dial D for… Huh?, drunk dialing is a scourge afflicting America’s future leaders—college students:

[The] soused student’s nonsensical message is one of the many ill communications filling the airwaves on any given night—a typically rambling example of the campus trend of drunk dialing.


The Voice‘s Jessie Pascoe breaks down this impossible to quantify but vaguely ominous situation: “Although no precise figure exists for the practice in this country, a recent Virgin Mobile survey in Australia found that of the 400-plus questioned, 95 percent had drunk dialed… And in 2005, according to new-media research company Telephia, Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are the ones talking the most on cell phones, averaging almost 22 hours a month.”

That’s practically 400 drunk Australians dialing their phones, and 18-24 year-olds—our most vulnerable citizens—using their phones a lot.

What’s even more frightening is that the drunk dialing epidemic could’ve been contained long ago. In a January 30, 2005 New York Times editorial, Carol E. Lee sounded an early alarm: “To the list of the unforeseen hazards that seem to plague the information age, we can now add another: ‘drunk dialing.’”

If only America had listened to Lee’s warning that:

Drunk dialing has grown so rampant now that, just as abuses of cellphones prompted a new code of ethics for public conversations and new laws for road travel, it has elicited various tips and cures. A Web site called SlackerTown.com offers a phone number that people can call to leave their drunk-dialed message, which is recorded and placed on the Web for everyone’s listening pleasure.
Another suggestion posted on the social networking site Tribe.net advises those with a predilection for drunk dialing to write down phone numbers they are prone to calling, delete them before going out, and then put them back into their phone the next morning.

Sadly, the dangers outlined by the paper of record and the safety measures discussed appear to have failed. Drunk dialing has gone from threat to trend to hyphenate in little over a year.

Clearly, government intervention is needed to curb this growing apocalyptic threat and/or trend. With improved F.C.C. regulations and the participation of leaders in the telecom industry, we can—and must—ensure that this drunk dialing epidemic doesn’t trickle down to America’s—or Australia’s—children. Our very future may hang in the balance (although no precise figures exist to confirm this).