It happens so quietly at first. Tried to find a pay phone lately?

Probably not. But on the very rare occasions over the course of my recent adult life that I have been without my cell phone and needed to make an urgent call, if I’ve been lucky enough to find a freestanding pay phone somewhere, the handset has unfortunately never replied with a dial tone.

It was never shocking to me to find less and less of the singular mode by which I called my parents daily from school when soccer practice ended to tell them it was time to pick me up. Antiquated technology, for sure.

But when did they all disappear?

Look around, and you’ll see the very same process has now begun with banks, too. 

Over 10,000 of the 95,018 bank branches that existed in 2008 have closed. Some are counting the days until the “bank teller” goes the way of the blacksmith[1][2][3]

ATMs, once themselves the vanguards of banking automation, are following suit; in the UK, 500 disappear every month.[4]

Call me paranoid, but I do not like what this portends for my most basic freedoms.

I like cash. It reminds me of just how much I’m spending. As much as I know it’s the exact same transaction, I put a lot more thought into whether or not I really need a new tablet when I have to fork over fifteen $20 bills than blithely tap my credit union debit card against a screen.

That’s good reticence; that’s healthy consideration. Walking around with just cash, I know I’m less prone to overspending. It’s just harder to hand over a wad of bills because I see and feel the loss. As I should. My...

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