Would your life be better without a cell phone?

Staying Social
Photo by Leon Fishman via Flickr

Gary Sernovitz doesn’t have a cell phone.

“For the last two decades, I have spent 83 percent of my waking hours enjoying the freedom of not owning a cellphone, 5 percent feeling smug about it, 2 percent in situations in which a phone would have been awfully convenient and 10 percent fielding incredulous questions,” he wrote for the Wall Street Journal. “But in a few weeks, I will buy a phone. I am scared. I am afraid of losing a small part of my identity.”

[h/t Marketplace]

Today’s Question: Would your life be better without a cell phone?

  • PaulJ

    No, value isn’t to Ma Bell standard, but they’re handy.

  • Erik

    I gave up my cell phone last February. It is my way of saving the Government a little hard drive space in their Utah Data Center. NSA, can you hear me now?

  • Jamison S.

    I don’t know that I could say if life would be “better” or worse. Cell phones are a tool, and it’s how we use them that matters.

  • david

    Since my cellphone is my only phone probably not.

  • Jim G

    Yes…Looking back at my phone usage over the decades. When I was in Junior High, I used the pay phone at school to ring my home phone, just one ring, to signal my mom I was waiting to be picked up after my after school activities. That way I got my dime back! Now if people don’t get a-hold of me on the land-line they immediately call my cell. I really miss that feeling of independence, self reliance, and resilience I developed in the past exactly because I couldn’t reach out and “touch someone” at a whim.

  • Kate

    I still own an “old school” flip phone- it doesn’t have internet and I refuse to get a smart phone. It’s used more as an expensive watch, but I keep it around for emergencies.

  • Pearly

    No, I like to have it for emergency situations like a car break down.

  • killershrew

    In regards to the quote that says Sernovitz spent “5% of time feeling smug about not owning a phone:” passing judgement on anyone just because they do, or don’t, use a cellphone is silly and pointless.

    • david

      My first though was that his smug feeling was a defense mechanism. He’s probably not feeling to smug when his car is broken down on the side of the road and there’s no one around to lend a hand.

      • Boone Stevens

        I’m sure he’s not feeling smug when his car is broken down and he’s standing on the side of the road without a cellphone. But I’ll be feeling smug when I drive past him.

  • reggie

    My life would be better if the rest of you didn’t have cell phones, but I guess it’s not all about me.

  • Rich in Duluth

    No, life is a bit better. My wife and I each have a $20, pay as you go, flip phone that we use for a little security when we are away from home or a quick call home to say, “I’ll be late”.

  • JQP

    nope. its a tool ( data phone). I don’t answer if I don’t feel like it. Its a really good way to get information fast and at time I need it.

    I use it to manage my day to day budget, keep track of shopping lists, project materials, workouts, email, travel, location, friends, …. Its reduced the paper clutter in my house dramatically. My wallet no longer looks like bloated brown clam.

    I’d get rid of my land line – but … the !@#%$!@#$ communications company considers that line an essential part of my “bundle” so I keep it.

  • anemone

    Ditto to all that JQP included in his response to today’s question about cellphones; especially the expletives…

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    Since childhood, I can never remember feeling excited about a ringing phone, no innate sense of curiosity about that. Some people jump at a phone or have a sense of eagerness to look at it when it makes a sound. Perhaps some of us are inclined to like phones. Funny thing is, I’m no loner and look forward to visiting with others. I think I just suck at transitioning from where my mind is, to entering a new place conversing with someone I had not anticipated encountering.

  • kevins

    We didn’t have them until the kids started driving…they were a blessing for that purpose. Now, they have smart phones with all the buzzers and lights, but have trouble putting them down wjen we get together for family meals. I get to ask them how they will manage such behavior in their own children in the future, which makes the behavior stop, but only temporarily. I have a cheap cell phone for business and blizzards only, but my spouse of 32 years thinks I should learn to text. Text Hell! I’m lucky to be able to type most days. There is, however, no turning back technology, but I think I’ll endorse only the useful parts for now.

  • Bea

    I refused one for a long time– higher bills, more juice, less privacy, for things I didn’t need/ want to access 24/7 anyway… But always driving old cars, traveling rural MN/WI, the phone started as sort of a security blanket with holes: many areas are still beyond tower range and the things don’t love winter, so it’s only somewhat helpful. It still doesn’t replace the need to know how to do some things for yourself or enlist a helpful MN neighbor if you need digging out of a snowbank. I think there’s a value in remembering some of those things.

    But when a family member was ill and going to/from Rochester a lot, I quickly saw that it helped others for me to use it. As the world moves ahead, I’m actually glad I’m able to learn to capitalize on it– it’s just not totally up to me any more.

    The real challenge is mindfulness in how/when to use the thing.

  • Zach

    It sure would simplify life and might cause us to see what’s really important a little more clearly.


  • Tanya

    The phone is useful as a tool. My life is better since I quit using a smart phone, though.

  • Peter T

    My wife and I got cell phones, when we had our first baby. I found it easy and liberating to coordinate parenting using the phone. When we moved a year later, we skipped the landline and never looked back.

  • Mark Gruben

    Not really, because I commute over 80 miles to work. But service in my town is spotty at best, so sometimes I feel like throwing it out the window.

  • Nancy Spiller

    My life has been greatly enhanced by my iPhone even though I rarely make phone calls. My last visit with my mother in 2007 was magical because of the photos and music I could share with her on my one month old miracle of a phone. And I can’t leave home without it living in Los Angeles.

  • Nancy Spiller

    SORRY–I almost forgot to mention–the MPR app on my current version is the way I listen to Minnesota Public Radio ALL THE TIME and wherever I am!

  • Ralfy

    I haven’t had a land line in over 10 years. When I cut off my Quest service, their rep scolded me – What if I fall down the basement stairs? Well, I guess I have a better chance of calling for help with a cell than a phone on the kitchen wall.
    I am concerned about the noise pollution and the false sense of security a cell phone brings to places like the BWCAW.

  • Pearly

    I wish I had an “Obama phone”

    • Do you mean a phone in the likeness of President Obama, or one of the phones the poor can get through the program originally set up by the Reagan administration?

  • Bea

    In all seriousness, why does the proliferation of cells necessarily mean pay phones have to disappear? Does it cost someone money to just leave them there? Kinda liked knowing where I could find a pay phone, a few years back.

    • Ralfy

      The popularity of cell phones made pay phones virtually obsolete. The cost of maintaining pay phones and the space they occupy made them a losing investment.
      There was also a push by law enforcement to get rid of them as they were frequently used by drug dealers.

      • Pearly

        Seams like that would be an advantage for law enforcement

  • Alex

    The fact you have a mobile makes you dependent on it. I would much rather be dependent on booze!