imho – a cellular life

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….

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

3 thoughts on “imho – a cellular life”

  1. I haven’t had a cellphone in quite a while. I might not be the easiest person to get a hold of, but as a dear friend put it (she is a much much older lady) “Look, what are these new technology leash laws?? If I’m here, I am and we talk, if I’m not, you’ll talk to me when I am.” Like her I love my freedom and don’t need more “security” to bog me down in rules and sociocentric behaviors.

    Whenever in doubt, I lean on this. There is no certainty, trying to make someone more ‘secure’ by making them ‘reachable’ is just another way to cling to the illusion of control. I don’t have a cell, don’t want one, only time I get a disposable is when my work requires me to have one. Damn.. disposable lowest minutes are about 30$… um… yah.

    Dis is how we rock it: If I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, no cell in the world will make me talk to ya (the caller). HAHA. In this day and age, I ain’t the most popular friend, heck I don’t even know how most apps work… However, I’m quite tech savvy, just not interested in new shiny ways of leashing myself to the same old fears….

    D. Ogyen


  2. Like anything else, phones are tools, sometimes used smartly and sometimes not. Case in point for the “sometimes not” category: hanging out with one party while texting and truly being with, mentally, another party. Or ordering food, carrying on a bank transaction or getting checked in for a flight with a customer service person while talking on the phone to someone else. Are we seriously so strapped for time any more that we have to multi-task our fellow humans?


Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.