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Facebook Thinks the Phone Number Is Going Away

Here's something to think about as you struggle to remember your phone number at the same time Facebook keeps asking for it: Do we even need phone numbers anymore? You've already ditched your landline, so why not your cell number, too?

The phone companies would respond with a resounding "YES!" to keeping our phone numbers. Facebook, however, has put the basic phone number on notice. So why does Facebook keep asking for our phone numbers again?

Facebook VP of Messaging Products David Marcus wrote a blog post that signaled the age of the disappearing phone number:

First let's set some context. Think about it: SMS and texting came to the fore in the time of flip phones. Now, many of us can do so much more on our phones; we went from just making phone calls and sending basic text-only messages to having computers in our pockets. And just like the flip phone is disappearing, old communication styles are disappearing too. With Messenger, we offer all the things that made texting so popular, but also so much more. Yes, you can send text messages, but you can also send stickers, photos, videos, voice clips, GIFs, your location, and money to people. You can make video and voice calls while at the same time not needing to know someone’s phone number. You don't need to have a Facebook account to use Messenger anymore, and it's also a cross platform experience – so you can pick up where you left off whether you’re on a desktop computer, a tablet, or your phone.

Yes, let's set some context. It's a proven fact that we can't remember anybody's phone number anymore, because we don't need to anymore. Our phones do the heavy mental lifting for us.

Also, communication is constantly evolving, and so maybe it makes sense that we will be communicating in new ways 10 years from now. Facebook would like us to switch to Messenger for all our future "calls."

So...is the phone number going away? Hmm. I don't see phone numbers going away anytime soon. Too many extroverts still need to reach out and bug someone, whether they're in customer service or in the next cubicle. Voice-to-voice over a reliable connection needs to happen for deals to get done, for dinner to get ordered correctly, for Dad to remember to stop at the store to buy ice cream on the way home, or else. Will we willingly ditch all our phone numbers?

Even more importantly, how will actors look super cool in movie scenes if they're lost in a handheld device for the whole movie? I've seen that movie, and it sucks.

So maybe Hollywood has a vested interest in making sure Silicon Valley doesn't do to movie dialogue what it did to movie distribution? In the meantime, the rest of us can just keep trying to remember basic phone numbers.

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