Can you live without a cellphone?

Douglas Jessmer at Visual Editors just picked up a new mobile phone and realizes it’s become an appendage:

The mobile phone is the perfect extension in a time of instant gratification and the 24-hour news cycle. You can “Reach Out And Touch Someone” anytime, and it sometimes feels like an electronic tether, especially since most have GPS capability now. No use running, because Big Brother can find you.

Scary thing is, the world comes to my phone. Every time I hear the phone chime with a new e-mail message, I realize just how vital that little thing is. How did it ever get that way? And how did we ever survive without cell phones?

If you’ve got a “I’m addicted to the cellphone/iPhone” story, please share it.

  • Nicholas Moe

    I’m a graduate student in the electrical engineering department at a major U.S. university, and I’ll bet that I could be the only student in that department without a cell phone. I’ve never had one, and I find it to be very gratifying that I am not tethered down as much as other people are with their cell phones. I use VoIP on my laptop as a cell phone surrogate, but it doesn’t carry the societal burdens and obligations that a cell phone brings; people are not angry with me if I don’t have my laptop on all the time, whereas if I had a cell phone, I would be expected to have it on as much as possible. People can still get in touch with me if my laptop is off; they’ll just have to leave a message, which gets sent to my e-mail. If I’m in a situation in which a cell phone would be handy, I’m usually with someone else who does have one, so there have been very few times when I wish I had one.

  • I had a cell phone for about three months of my whole life. When I had an opportunity to cancel the contract, it was a happy day. Here are some of the reasons I got rid of it and why I won’t be replacing it anytime soon:

    1) Predatory pricing. If you go over your plan minutes, you pay an exorbitant rate. Why can’t they just charge you a flat rate? Prepaid plans have tons of hidden charges, too. Thanks to my VoIP skills, I rarely spend more than $5.00 per month for all my phone calls, and I use my phone with impunity. No waiting until 9 pm for me!

    2) Bad industry practice. Back in the days of Ma Bell, phone numbers were kept out of service for three years before they were reassigned. When I had my cell phone, most of the calls were debt collection agencies looking for one of (at least) three generations of my number’s former owners. Wait, I know! I could get a land line and then port the number over. That way I’d at least have a clean number. Furthermore, there is a host of technical issues involved in the interconnection to the telephone system, but I’ll assure you that your cellular provider does this as cheaply as possible. Sometimes things are buggy. The people I called always got “Terrence Ballou” on their caller ID, which isn’t quite my name.

    3) Lack of control over my calls. Right now, my voice mails go to my email inbox, and if I delete one there, it’s gone from the voice interface, too. This costs me $0.00 because I implemented it myself. In fact, I can do anything I want with my calls, like send them straight to voice mail during certain hours or whenever my calendar is set to busy or even play shrieking monkey noises to pollsters or telemarketers. I just have to sit down and write some code.

    In sum, I don’t have any problem with using getting into a symbiotic relationship with technology. But I’m unwilling to pay an exorbitant price for something I can do better on my own.

  • GregS

    Like a growing number of people, my wife and I dumped our land-line five years ago. We only use our cells.

  • Here is a story about *not* having a cellphone.

    When I moved to the Twin Cities several years ago, I gave up my cellphone as a luxury that I couldn’t afford because I didn’t have a well paying job at the time.

    One day, as I was driving my car, it decided to break down. It broke down in front of a funeral parlor, and I had to use the phone in there to contact friends and a tow truck.

    I took this as a sign that I needed a cellphone at the very least for emergencies, and obtained one the following week.

  • brian

    I voted yes in the survey, because I could live without my cellphone, but I’m not planning to get rid of it. I think we should be able to strike a happy medium between cell phone excesses and a land line (like GregS, my wife and I don’t have a land line). I treat my cellphone like I would a land line, I just have it wherever I go. If I miss a call… that is what voicemail is for. If I’m talking to someone… I don’t answer my phone unless I know it is important. I don’t talk while standing in lines. I turn it off at movies, plays, lectures, meetings, etc. My wife says that there are people that answer their phone during class… that just blows my mind. I’d probably be one of those people without a cellphone, except I like being able to call to change plans, or tell someone I’m running late, or getting directions. I think we could all just use some common sense and common courtesy and most cellphone issues would be solved.

  • c

    cell phones are good when they are used in emergencies such as the case noted in a previous blog about car troubles.

    cell phones are good when they are used in keeping in touch with childrens activities as far as safety measures

    cell phones are evil when the tool is being used for activities such as cyberbullying, stalking and so on.

    it is too bad that technology gets abused in our society and we have no control or boundaries to keep users honest. why are there no laws for stalking and cyberbullying? there should be as i think that without them (laws prohibiting/controling) the use of cell phones it sends a message out that it is ok to do those kinds of things. technology is so quick in developing new ways to communicate why can we develop new ways to control and monitor the new technology