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Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Failed Experiment with the Cell Phone

Last week when I went up to Anchorage to attend the Alaska Anthropological Meetings Zoya bought me a cell phone to take along. She had planned on meeting me there and it just seemed like a good idea for coordination and communication purposes. And it probably still is a good idea for those reasons, but, for me, too aggravating of a leash to be worth it.

I jetted up to Anchorage all happy with my new cell phone and proudly told everyone I knew my new cell phone number. This was probably my first big mistake. The thing started to ring and vibrate constantly. I found myself doing all the rude things I abhor about people with cell phones - like answering the phone in the middle of a conversation, or rushing off to check my messages. I tried turning it off, but then people actually got mad at me for not getting back to them sooner. All of a sudden people EXPECTED to be able to get a hold of me. I was no longer free. And worse yet, most of the calls were of the REALLY unimportant variety - 'hey dude, what's up? Want to meet up in the bar later'. And I left a symposium to hear this because I did not want to miss a message from Zoya.

In the cell phone's defense, Zoya claims I must take control of my own cell phone and turn it off and check the messages in my own time. But I say why bother if I don't have to. Here on Kodiak people can call me at work, home or send me an email message. They do not expect anything more and I like it that way. I can go skiing or walking with the dogs without interruptions or the guilt that I am blowing someone off. Unless I am at home or at work there is no way I can check my messages, right?

I think people have slowly become addicted to cell phones and do not even realize what they have lost. People have built up a 'cell phone' culture over a 10 to 15 year period and do not even realize how their lives have changed for the worse. Texting, twitter, a constant need to be in communication with everyone else is chaos! And worse yet no one really gives anyone else their full attention. They'll be talking to one person while they text another, or perhaps update on their facebook page about what they are eating. Heaven forbid that anyone will ever take the time to compose and write a letter and send it via the US mail. When I tried to enter this culture on a fast track over one weekend the repercussions of my decision were obvious. A cell phone is a leash. It is symptomatic of a culture with an attention deficit disorder. I also fully realize that some people have no choice – a cell phone is a requirement of their job. I happen to have the luxury of a choice. So while perhaps I'll travel with one on occasion, you wont see me carrying a cell phone around on a regular basis any time soon. Patrick

Photo: A picture Nora took of me (old technology hating codger) and Stu. Amazing how the kiddos take to new technology isn't it?

1 comment:

My Little Family: said...

Patrick, if you want to use it for emergencies only then only give the number out to those that would need to rach in case of emergency (Zoya, the Museum, your mom). Everyone else you know should be able to reach you through one of them.

I actually prefer my cell over my landline. Small, portable, and holds a charge better.