Some people climb Everest. Some hunt for wild game in Africa. Some sail around the world all alone. I live without a cell phone. I don’t even own a cordless. All I have is my trusty phone that plugs into the wall and does nothing but let me talk to people on their phones.
Now I know the idea of not having a cell borders on the edge of ridiculous in our fast-paced hi-tech world. Cells are small. And cute. They feel good in your palm. They connect you to the world. They even take pictures and play music now. So what’s the big deal?
I have no good reason. This isn’t a political statement. It’s not a protest against the rapidly changing culture that grafts us to our technology. It’s not about the millions of phones and batteries that get added to the trash heap each year instead of being recycled. It’s not even about the paralyzing choice of coming up with my own special ring tone.
It’s true that people on their cell phones annoy the hell out of me at times. The way voices get louder and shriller and drone on and on when you just want some peace and quite. Or the ring tones that can’t end at just a few notes. No…I have to hear your stupid song and everything you have to say – sort of reminiscent of the way Lyndon Johnson reportedly made reporters go with him into the bathroom and take in whatever was going on. But since all this has been discussed endlessly, I can leave it at that.
No…I just think I like the freedom. The knowledge that for just a little while, I can be out there in the world without being called back by the urgent cry of the phone – that usually isn’t urgent at all. And if it is, well…I get to it simply by checking my voice mail once in a while. (Hey…I’m not a total luddite!)
My cell-less state of being used to amuse the people I worked with when I was doing IT consulting. Yes…I work in IT. But somehow I always managed to get work completed on time. And maybe with less disturbances from a demanding cell than my co-workers.
Now I know there are circumstances – such as staying connected to your children – where cell phones make things easier. And I know there are stories where cell phones helped save a life. But for those of you who don’t remember this, we once lived our daily lives quite well without them. My mom didn’t know where I was every minute and sometimes that was a good thing – but it all worked out.
But today…in our over-scheduled, oh-so-fast-paced world, the thought seems impossible. How can I be out of reach – ever? Why wouldn’t I want to have the cell phone (or iPod, etc.) with me so I can fill every moment with electronic-aided communication? What would I have without those fillers? All that boring silence?
I know I’m sounding really old, but we used to call that time to think. Creative time. Meditative time. I love that.
I don’t know if we’re actually losing anything by filling in every empty space with sound and motion. And maybe we’re gaining things that I just can’t fully see. Like the way the internet has brought so many people together who never would have met otherwise. I can see how cell phones create connections. And that’s all good.
And I certainly see the advantage to having them around for bona fide emergencies.
I just really love the space in between.