Most young people no longer install land lines when they get their first apartment. They often live in short-term housing; their finances are tight; and they grew up relying on mobile devices and simply don't know any better. But many older folks, too, are getting rid of home phones they've had for years. I say, please don’t!

Don’t get me wrong: Cell phones are a fantastic invention. They have earned a prominent foothold in our day-to-day lives and changed the fabric of how we communicate. But cell phones are about as personal as a crowded supermarket, due to both the radio-based technology and the surroundings in which they are often [over]used. Unless I have something quick and urgent to tell you (as in, “can you pick me up some socks while you’re at Target?”), I’d prefer not to share the intimacies of life while you’re distracted paying for your groceries, trying not to crash your car, or maneuvering down a crowded street.

True, your cell phone lets you call me from just about anywhere, and I can likewise reach you anytime, anyplace. It has enabled friends and family to carve time out of busy days to stay in closer touch than ever before. But because we can now interrupt whatever we are doing in the “outside world,” the result is about as reliable as we should expect—an inferior, unnatural connection that is frequently lost mid-sentence for no reason and without warning.

I want to know I can reach you at home, not "page" you wherever you might happen to be. I want to picture you at your kitchen island sipping coffee from a chipped mug, or in your living room with your feet propped on a cluttered coffee table, or out in your backyard, perhaps pulling some overgrown weeds. There is something intimate about chatting on a land line; it’s private time when secrets can be shared. (Last I checked, cops still need a warrant to tap one.) Talking on a cell is like the difference between a cup of tea at your place vs. meeting up at Starbucks. The former is purposeful, reflective, and intimate—a private engagement, however brief or spontaneous. The latter is public, earsplitting, and chaotic—an open event, however well-planned. And whether you realize it or not, you have to shout to be heard, just as you must raise your voice above the din of a barista's milk frother. (That’s why everyone around you is shooting you those dirty looks.)

Face it: Not having a home phone says something about you. When the land line goes, you become just a little less trustworthy, a little more flaky. Your home is a symbolically transitory place where you stop off but never roost, sort of like a hotel. A land line is part of what makes where we live home, just like a cozy bed, an overstuffed sofa, or a luxurious bathtub. It tethers us to a particular place by offering a permanent connection to the outside world. Cell phones, on the other hand, enable us to be transient.

Home phones have an air of permanence. They used to sit atop special tables, with thick telephone books stowed beneath. Or they were secured to the wall, perhaps in the kitchen by the all-important fridge. There were often notepads conveniently located nearby, to take crucial messages. Even though most land lines are now cordless, before ditching yours, think of all that rich history you will be throwing away along with it. Have you tossed your cherished family photo albums simply because you can now store your memories in digital format?

Phones also have a venerable history as the family’s hub to the outside world. Because they are generally communal instruments (whereas cell phones are narcissistic ones), children still have to be taught phone manners before being allowed to answer the ringing device. Learning to place and receive calls is weighty business, with an etiquette all its own; the person answering doesn’t know if the call will be for her or someone else. S/he might have to cover the mouthpiece and call a parent or older sibling. Answering the phone is an important rite of passage, a task to be treated with the solemnity of a switchboard operator. No similar care need be taken with one's own high-tech walkie-talkie.

I, for one, like making and receiving calls to numbers that make sense, not those newfangled area codes no one’s heard of, whose only purpose is to provide fresh three-digit combos to an unmanageable quantity of iThingies. Worse yet is the “leftover” area code kept by one who has moved far from home. Not only are those people impermanent; they're enigmatic. Where are they from, with that strange area code? What are they doing here, and how long do they plan on staying? If I get close to one of you, will you return to Chicago or San Diego or wherever you really belong? It may be convenient to keep your old phone number, but it tells me you’re not really here—not yet.

Think about your very first phone number. I’ll bet it’s emblazoned on your brain as clearly as your first day of kindergarten (when you were probably forced to memorize it). If you’re as old as I am, your phone number began with a place name, making the exercise a sweet, sing-song ritual of childhood. Most cell phone numbers are a mishmash of meaningless digits. How’s a four-year-old supposed to remember that? (Oh, I forgot—they don’t have to; they now have cell phones of their own, with the important numbers pre-programmed.)

Relying 100% on your cell phone is like subsisting on fast food. Sure, it’s cheap and convenient. But cooking at home is one of those elemental things that makes you a person of substance—someone I can trust. You like the smell of garlic sautéeing or the sound of the mixer whirring while you bake with your kids. You don’t mind a few dishes piled in the sink afterward. Please don’t disconnect your land line; I want to call you at home while you’re trying to fix dinner.