Last weekend my cell phone died.
D had already resuscitated it on two previous occasions but this time pronounced it beyond repair.
Did I wail at the inconvenience of being phoneless? Bemoan the fact that this happened a quarter of the way into my year-long Dollar Diet?
No way. I almost did a little dance of glee! This was the perfect opportunity to conduct an experiment to see if I can survive without a cell phone. I mean, I managed to survive perfectly well before they came into vogue.
The crux of matter is I simply do not like cell phones, so this is an easy challenge. I really don’t like what they are doing to people’s behaviour at all.
I don’t like talking over the phone because I am a strongly visual person and I find it jarring to not get visual cues from the person I’m talking to.
I don’t like being contactable at all times. In the past a not-so-great boss of mine contacted me several times when I was on holiday. For not terribly important stuff. My husband D leaps up to answer our land line whenever it rings. Me, I let it go to voicemail if it’s not convenient (I invariably get calls when I am changing a pooey nappy 🙂 ).
I really, really, really don’t like how glued to their phones many people can be.
I mean, it’s getting ridiculous people. I was getting there myself. Checking Facebook because I was standing in a queue. Wasting time on the internet because both my kids were napping at the same time. Checking my cell phone while I was in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with friends. Checking my emails while my kids played in front of me. I tried putting limits on myself. Only checking it in the morning and evening. Sometimes it worked, but some days I would be found peering into my little screen again because I was bored.
What does it add up to?
Don’t believe me? This study found that texting has become the favourite form of communication amongst teens in America. Not talking face to face, or those long phone calls teenage girls used to be lampooned for. Texting.
I see it all the time. Young people texting flat out at family gatherings instead of talking with the adults around them. Couples walking arm in arm on a date, but eyes and minds on the phones in their hand. People checking their phones while driving. People stopping conversations in mid-stream because their phone beeped an alert and they just had to check it. Parents staring at their little screen while their kids play at the park.
Our phones, with their siren call (excuse the pun), stop us from being fully present with each other. We are slowly sending a message that our phone is more important than the people around us. It’s so easy to not to have to engage with each other, particularly strangers. Our phones give us an excuse. Can’t talk to that person next to me on the bus because I am on my phone. My looking at Buzzfeed is important.
Having an internet connection in our pockets means we can be saturated with media any time we like. We are staring out the window during our bus commute less, chatting to the stranger behind us at the grocery store less, having fewer moments of inspiration because we no longer allow ourselves to be bored.
Those little pockets of ‘nothing’ time in your day are golden. We need them. Our poor old brains need them. Our creative souls need that time to daydream and wonder.
So in true Dollar Diet spirit, I will not be replacing my phone this year. Time will tell if I find it a pain that I get a flat tyre on the highway and have no phone to call for help (but hey, everyone else will have one, right?). But I hope that I will be more present with my family and friends, more in the moment.
Oh, and it saves me $20 a month.