Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The No-Cell-Phone Low Down

Credit: Photo by College Park
This is the what we used to use before cellphones. Good luck finding one.

Not owning an electronic ball and chain makes you an outcast in today’s society.

On average, it seems like “Can I get your number?” is the second or third question asked after meeting someone, right behind “What is your name?” or “How much for your sister?”

“I don’t have one,” is no longer an acceptable response. It automatically comes with incredulous looks of disdain and confusion. "Did they just say they don’t have a phone?"

Then comes a scowl and the overbearing stare of mistrust. They think you don’t trust them, that you don’t want them to call. They walk away cursing and stomping their feet at the nerve you have of treating them that way.

However they feel, no matter what they think, there is no way that you can convince them of the truth.

And that truth is you really don’t have a cell phone.

Our Age Of Constant Connection

In today’s modern world, everywhere you go, people are connected. They are busy running around with BlueTooths in their ear, pockets full of PDA, Palms, iPods, iPhones, and a shoulderbag stuffed with notebooks, netbooks, and a little space reserved for a Kindle or an iPad.

No matter what time of day it is, we can connect with others through talking, chatting, texting, IMing, E-mails, webcams, Skypes, and any other convenient on-the-go method of communication. We are available to friends, family, loved ones, strangers, bill collectors, spam bots, and the occasional wrong number 24 hours a day through the glory of wireless communication.

Have we lost our collective ever-loving frigging minds?

About a few months ago, a curious thing happened. I stopped paying for phone service. Any and all phone service. No 3g, 4g, texts, mobile web.

No mobile connection to the world at all.

Not even a pager.

At first, this was purely an economical condition. I could no longer pay for the service on my 400 buck gorilla that came with all the bells and whistles. So, I went and picked up a cheap, pay-as-you-go throwaway phone and just existed with the occasionally text and by sending all my calls to voicemail only to answer them for free on someone else’s phone. Initially, this saved me about half what I was paying a month from my bells and whistles phone and I was happy.

But after a month or two went by, an interesting thing happened.

I noticed that I was not even using half the minutes I was buying. So I started getting smaller packages. Then, even smaller packages. Eventually, I stopped talking all together and just bought 1000 text packages for ten bucks a month.

I was ecstatic. I now had lowered my monthly service to a tenth of what it used to cost me. I was being frugal in a down economy. I had more money to spend on ramen now.

Well, pretty soon I realized that I wasn’t even using half of the text messages I was allocated each month, and this number kept dropping.

Pretty soon, I was sending less then ten texts a month and calling absolutely nobody. Then, one day, I just shut the phone off for its final time and the world around me came alive.

I went to the beach and sat on the benches at Palisades Park and looked out at the ocean. It was peaceful, relaxing, and nobody could reach me. Not that my phone was on silent or off, but it didn’t exist. There was no way for anyone to know where I was or what I was doing. It was a great feeling. A new sense of freedom.

I started wandering the streets with this new sense of wonder, taking in all the things I never got to see because I was too busy with my head down and my fingers banging away. Life had changed around me. My favorite coffee shops were gone, my favorite eateries white-windowed, and the world had this sense of moving on around me but I had failed to really notice. Another curious thing I now noticed was the lack of payphones.

Where they used to be were now stripped down husks of some ancient coin-box dinosaurs littering the landscape. A new epiphany arose in me. Not only could nobody reach me, but I could no longer reach anyone else. I was now completely alone with myself, stranded in world of electronic communication with no way to communicate with those who sought to text me LOLs, and OMGs, with great emoticons of WTF LMAO.

It was exhilarating. Refreshing. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this free. Was it in 1984?

A Maverick of Society

Now when I meet new people and we get to talking and then we part ways, they ask me for my cell number and I reply that I don’t have one, I am looked at like a pariah.

They look at me perplexed and wonder how I could live without some sort of mobile device, and I ask them how can they live with it. Don’t they understand the freedom of not wanting to be bothered with every little chain joke and quote of the day, not wanting to listen to the insane and annoying choices they make for a simple phone to ring? And how can they place a monthly fee on the loss of their personal freedom?

I ask them these things and so much more and in the end we agree to disagree.

Then, I give them my email address. Well, at least one of them.

About the Writer

Crowbar is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on The No-Cell-Phone Low Down

Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Crowbar on March 23, 2010 at 12:21 am

So we don't get to choose where we place an article now??

This was not intended to be a creative essay, but my opinion on the cultural signifiance of cell phones.

what is going on with the Broo??

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Log In To Vote   Score: 2
By Crowbar on March 24, 2010 at 11:33 am

There is no difference in people shouting into their Bluetooths and those wacky homeless peeps who walk around talking to themselves...sometimes, I can't tell the

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By Theresa H Hall on March 25, 2010 at 01:45 pm

I loved reading your work! The other day I saw you in the newsroom chat, and now I understand the reason others were happy to see your return. You have marvelous way of introducing valid viewpoints of just how much service we are being sold, versus the actual amount that we don't use.

Your ease of conviction makes me rethink my own (under $400) monthly plan which is so nicely packaged. That we are being ripped-off is an understatement. I want to do something about a restructure, but have no idea where to begin. I love the service, but not the cruel reality of the price. I throughly dislike the customer service and feel a bit trapped because we have security system and for that, I believe we must carry the land line.

I'll quote you here:

"There is no difference in people shouting into their Bluetooths and those wacky homeless peeps who walk around talking to themselves...sometimes, I can't tell the"

So many times I have thought someone is speaking to me and when I answer them, I get the quizzical looks of "Lady, what? Why are you talking to me? Can't you see I'm on the phone here!" I have drawn a picture of precisely the point you have made.

Recently when my sister got rid of her cell phone, I'll admit to feeling a bit panicked by her decision. Truth to tell, everything is fine and when I cannot reach her on the land line, I have to be satisfied with leaving a voice message. We have become a bit robotic by all of this technology ... perhaps way over-spoiled.

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