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Nothing Good Happens When You Answer Your Doorbell, and Everyone Knows It

Yesterday, Jim Waterson of BuzzFeed UK posed a question for anyone with a doorbell.

As of this writing, the “Doorbells are scary weird” votes are edging out “I open doors they’re good,” 54 percent to 46 percent. Let us be clear: The non-doorbell-answerers are correct.

But before we get to that whole debate, we must dispense with the “millennials” angle, lest we encourage thinkpieces that reinforce hurtful stereotypes about my generation.

The fact is, the doorbell-averse crowd spans all ages. Old people hate the doorbell.

Yes, millennials are not fans of unexpected, unmediated interactions with other humans — even a phone call from a friend can make us anxious — but you needn’t have been born after 1980 to understand the efficiency and convenience of texting, nor the insidious alarm of a randomly ringing doorbell. Who could possibly be out there, assuming you didn’t order on-demand groceries or Chinese food off Seamless?

These best-case scenarios are ludicrous at best. Friends only show up unannounced on sitcoms; anyone who tries it in real life is deeply inconsiderate. Untracked packages will probably get left on your welcome mat — otherwise you’ll get a slip and be prepared when they re-attempt delivery tomorrow. The cake thing has literally never happened. And if we take off the dude-privilege glasses for a moment, we notice something else:

But why do I, a 32-year-old, 180-pound man standing 6-foot-2, not answer the doorbell when I don’t know who it is? Maybe because every time I do, it’s either a Jehovah’s Witness or someone hustling money for a suspiciously nameless charity. Actually, in my old New York apartment, there was a third possible visitor: My clinically insane building super, who wanted to scream at me because some other tenant didn’t separate their recycling. Beyond these charming encounters, there can only be further threats:

What else can I say? Your dogs bark at the doorbell — they know it is bad. You have to put clothes on to answer the doorbell. The doorbell is fundamentally an interruption, a piercing tone from an exterior world that has no business bursting into your private one.

That a person (a stranger!) outside your walls is permitted to create this noise inside your home violates the boundaries of proper communication as we understand them.

We can end this madness. Ban doorbells. Let the media say millennials killed them — I don’t care, as long as it gets done. Then we can worry about the scourge of knocking.