I confess, I am one of of the 22% of Americans that do not have a cell phone. I am part of a shrinking minority of people who don’t want to be in constant contact with anyone and everyone else. I am a semi Tech NO (someone who deliberately chooses to not use technology like cell phones).
Our minority is rapidly becoming oppressed. People look down on us. People get mad at us for not being instantly available. People laugh at us for not being able to show off our pictures on our phone or check in (using FourSquare and other apps) to show the world where we are, or compare prices at Target while we shop at Walmart. People shake their heads and call us old, old-fashioned and out of date. Are we so poor that we can’t afford a cell phone – they say to themselves.
Why Don’t I Own a Cell Phone?
For 4 decades, work duties required that I be ‘on call’. This meant that I could be hauled out of bed, away from family re-unions, back from vacation or weekend trips to solve problems for my company. As part of being on call, I was required to carry a pager (remember them? – little black boxes that clipped onto your clothes and screamed at you in the middle of the night).
I hated being on call. I hated having someone being able to bother me at any hour, day or night, any day of the week. When that beeper went off, I was required to call the number in the pager window. The guys at the other end of the line were working nights all the time and were wide awake and very happy to be waking me up and presenting me with a problem to solve – rrrrggggghhhh.
I’m Not Against Telephones
Mind you, I do have a land line – which used to be a pleasant experience. When the phone rang years ago, it almost always was someone we knew and with whom we wanted to speak. Today it is usually a computer generated voice trying to cause anxiety in us about our insurance or our credit or something equally unpleasant.
My Grandparents may have thought a phone was intrusive and unnecessary, but we grew up with one. Ours had no rotary dial – you got assigned a special ring – 3 shorts and a long, or a long and a short – and picked up when ‘your’ ring sounded. Of course, some picked up on other’s rings so they could listen in on the party line conversations! If you wanted to place a call, you lifted the receiver and a for real live person asked who you wanted to call, then connected you! There was one phone. It stayed in the house. It didn’t follow you to the yard when you went to mow the grass. It didn’t go to the store with you. It didn’t tell you the time, store messages, screen your calls, show off your pictures or broadcast where you were every minute of every day.
It didn’t fit into your ear and make you look like a crazy person – walking down a busy street talking loudly when no one was near.
Am I Out of Step?
Do I feel out of step with the rest of the world? Yes – a bit. Does it bother me? No – not much. Maybe someday I will get and use a cell phone. I can see advantages – if my car breaks down I could use it to call for help. If I am meeting someone I could call their cell to find them in a crowd. These, I can do without – at least for now.
Some day, I may get a cell phone, but by then everyone else will probably be doing without. Even now there are “Tech-no’s” who refuse to use them. There are sites with tips on how to ‘withdraw’ from cell phone usage so that you can ‘get focused’. And there are people who are using the status of NO CELL PHONE as a power play – making everyone else adjust to their timeline and communication mode.
Long ago, I read a science fiction story about a society where everyone took some drug to stay awake all the time. Everyone except this one guy. This poor guy really suffered – he couldn’t ever get a good night’s sleep because the rest of the world was up making noise and light. Finally this poor guy relented and took the drug (whose effect lasted months). Soon after, all the other people stopped taking it and started sleeping at night again. Again this poor guy suffered – he was awake but no one else was. He couldn’t make noise and light lights because that kept all these other people awake!
This poor guy will be me – only instead of being awake all the time, I will be wanting to be in constant contact and no one else will have a cell phone on them! For now, though, doing without a cell phone helps me do without some stress (and saves my wallet a bit of use too!).
Are you tethered to your cell phone? Do you really need it? What would happen if you forgot it for a week – or if satellite service was gone for a month? Anyone remember the author or name of that science fiction story?
This post was written by Marie.