nullstream weblog - Cell Phone Nation

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Cell Phone Nation


March 6, 2007 04:56 PM PST

I love gadgets and devices, but I don't yet own a cell phone. I have a family and kids that are away from the house a lot of the time - so I have some legitimate use cases. The problem is that I've lived long enough without one that I just can't be convinced that I 'need' one. (It has also become a bit of a challenge to see how long I can hold out). I especially do not 'need' one enough to justify the amount of money a month it costs. I have no problem shelling out a 'one time' chunk of change for PDAs, Laptops, cameras, game consoles and the like, but a monthly bill is something different entirely for me. Regardless of the amount, any new monthly bill feels like another ball and chain I have to drag around. For the rest of the masses, they (meaning probably 99% of you) absorbed that initial price shock years ago and now just accept it as a cost of life. Now they get nickeled and dimed to death and don't even notice.

Not having a cell phone has made me very very aware now of how many people 'live' on their cells. It has almost become a game for me to count the number of people with a phone in their ear in any given situation; driving, shopping, walking, eating at a restaurant, or one of my favorites - while in the library. I listen to parts of their conversations (they are hard to ignore), it's almost all trivial, un-urgent and certainly un-important chatter. Or it is what J and I coined as 'playing business'... assuming an 'important' tone of voice and dictating orders into the phone loud enough for everyone around to hear. It just doesn't make sense to me that you need to narrate you entire grocery trip to someone, or call up to the office to tell someone you are in the parking lot (or even worse, already in the elevator), and will see them in 2 minutes.

Maybe my problem (okay, one of my many problems) is that I'm too conscious of just how unimportant I really am. It's not like I have a horde of people are trying to call me 24/7. And I certainly don't have a massive list of people that need or want to hear from me during every idle moment of my life. I'm not orchestrating some huge business deal, or coordinating the social event of the year. And what could be so important that someone would need to answer the phone while in the can?

Don't even get me started on blackberry and push email. Cool yes, but how many people actually need to respond to an email within seconds of receipt no matter where they are 24/7? Also how rude is it to interrupt a conversation you are having face to face with another human so you can read / answer an email? I say again, an email... whose very purpose is for timed delayed, answer it at your convenience, communication. (Okay, it looks like I did get started. Dang it I told you not to). For fun, keep track of the number of people you see waiting at a crosswalk downtown checking email. For even more fun (if you are walking yourself) keep track of how many of these folks check it at EVERY crosswalk they stop at. Who is the master again? Man or machine?

I will of course deny that I ever wrote this post within 24 hours of my first cell phone purchase.

Comments (7)
Paul, March 6, 2007 05:35 PM:

I have a cell phone instead of a land line, so the cost is only slightly higher than a regular phone bill and I can (sometimes) surf the web with cell phone and data plan.

Paul, March 6, 2007 07:22 PM:

I seem to remember someone, I forget who exactly, that had hooked up a laptop in the front seat of their car so that they could watch Babylon 5 episodes while driving.

John, March 6, 2007 08:33 PM:

Yeah, that experiment didn't work out too well. But the point is it didn't cost me $40.00 a month.

GW, March 8, 2007 11:20 AM:

Do not get your e-mail on your phone if your company pays the bill. Expectations are set at that point.

John, March 8, 2007 01:26 PM:

Sounds like you know this from experience. :)

J, March 16, 2007 02:40 AM:

Testing comments from my smartphone. These things will really shackle you to work, just ask George!

John, March 16, 2007 09:17 AM:

Did you send those comments while driving? I hear you are not truly a man until you can text with one hand and drive with the other.

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