I’m enjoying life without a cell phone. I really do not enjoy talking on the phone. It has always been a strange and awkward experience for me: to only hear a voice, disconnected from the body it belongs to. I would rather Skype or video chat, so that I can at least see a person’s body language and facial expressions. Or, I don’t mind texting. With texting, though, you still run into the same problem as talking on the phone–you have language and words disconnected from the person; however, I like that I can take time to think through what I want to say, maybe even re-write it if it doesn’t sound good.
One of the main things that keeps me from getting a cell phone, aside from how damn expensive the plans can be, is that a cell phone puts me continuously on-call. At any given moment, the device can vibrate, ring, or otherwise summon me into its presence. But what if I am in the middle of something that I am really enjoying, something really life-giving? Or what if I am appreciating a good conversation with a friend?
We are centering our lives around cell phones, developing technology that can put everything into one device: email, internet, texting, talking, video chat, calendar, camera, music, and even books. If there is anything you are missing, there’s an app for that! My point is not necessarily to be a Luddite (though I wholeheartedly support those who are Luddites). I like technology as much as the next person. Also, the virtual realities of our modern world require some degree of technological engagement. I simply want to honestly ask myself what effect new technology has on my well-being. I also want to try my darnedest to not get swept up in the consumeristic impulse to buy the latest gizzmos. The most up-to-date numbers I have seen is that each American produces 1,700 lbs of trash each year, and so I want to think more intentionally about what I consume.
“You don’t own your stuff,” says Tyler from the film Fight Club, “your stuff owns you.” This certainly seems true of my 8 or 9 years experience with cell phones. It puts me on call for distractions. Sometimes these are good distractions, though, and that’s the rub, because I do keep in touch better with friends and family with a cell phone. Cell phones are also handy. And they are dandy. And I do miss the connections formed around this form of virtual reality….I just don’t know that it’s worth it right now, for me personally….