I bought my first cellphone in 2000. It had a red face plate and was powered by Verizon Wireless.
Ten years later, I’m still with the cellular provider — and on my fifth or sixth iteration, the latest being a BlackBerry Curve 8330. It’s more than a phone; I use it for its web browser and camera, and numerous applications. The BlackBerry is like a portable computer and I can’t fathom a day without it.
But people do. Though they may constitute the minority of your friends, I imagine you can think of one or two people without one. Lisa (not her real name) is one friend of mine without a cellphone and I emailed her for her reasons why. Here’s what she has to say:
Oh, cellphones. I know if I had one I would love it and squeeze it and call it George, and that’s kind of the problem. Weirdly enough, I actually love talking on the phone and spend at least an hour each day catching up with out of state friends. But I enjoy that because I found a happy compartmentalization for that phone time, and that’s at home. When I’m out by myself, I like to actually be alone. I like my uninterrupted walks home from work, knowing my friends don’t think I’m dodging their calls because I’d rather listen to the rest of a song on my iPod rather than chat — they just know if I don’t pick up, I’m not home.
I know that cellphones are eminently practical. Every few months I consider getting one “just for emergencies.” Maybe I will, one day. But I know I would have to guard against it becoming a leash. While I love my family and friends, the idea of getting phone calls or texts any time, anywhere feels amazingly intrusive. That’s not even considering my boss or my coworkers, who would inevitably get my cell number if I had one. Sure, I could leave my phone home when I don’t want to be bothered. But who does that? I’m also quite happy to avoid doing business with cell phone carriers. No bill, no contract, no head smashing.
Could you live a cellphone-free life (let alone one devoid of the BlackBerry or iPhone)? I’m unsure. I’m not flat-out saying no, but I use my berry a lot.
Focusing on Lisa’s final sentence of no bills, I’m drawn to something Trent Hamm wrote this month about how the internet impacts standards of living. He suggests living a cellphone-free life is one way to both respond to life changes and save money.
Five years ago, I was a cell phone addict. I never went anywhere without it. I was constantly calling and texting people. Over the last two years, I have essentially weaned myself from cell phone usage. Now, I rarely pick it up and, when my contract expires, I’m going to simply cancel the phone and get a pay-by-the-minute el cheapo phone. Why? I realized I didn’t actually need what it provided. What I wanted was connection to the important people in my life – and cell phones didn’t really provide that. The only actual need it fulfilled in my life was additional security while traveling and, on rare occasion, contacting a friend to make sure we were meeting up at the correct time and place. I can do that for a lot cheaper with a prepaid cell phone, so I’m going to make that switch in the very near future.
I hear what he’s saying but, again, I don’t know if I can do it. Can you? Have you?