FOR 31 HOURS....
Carrying a cell phone has become almost as common as wearing clothing. Nearly everywhere I go I see someone busily texting, checking email, or talking on the phone, even if they are in a big group. Cell phones are in constant use. For many, their cell phone is their best friend. It’s their most immediate connection to the people they want to talk to at that second and they won’t go anywhere without it. Although phones are an important method of communication between people, many wonder if they cause people to be less connected to the community right in front of them.
Thinking about my relationship with my cell phone, I realize that imagining a day when I willingly didn’t use my phone is hard. My cell phone and I are pretty much inseparable. Having it with me creates some strange sense of security. For instance, I was sitting alone at the DMV where I didn’t know anyone. I was feeling sort of awkward because I didn’t have anything to do but sit and watch the other people in the DMV so I whipped out my cell phone, turned to my contact list and instantly started a conversation with a few friends. Suddenly the bustle of the DMV went away and I was completely absorbed in my own little cell phone world. I found security in the fact that I was no longer sitting awkwardly alone with nothing to do. However the question then became what might have happened if, instead of burring myself in my cell phone, I had struck up a conversation with some other person at the DMV with nothing to do? I will never know.
Examining this situation and ones like it, I decided to see what it would be like to live 31 entire hours without a cell phone. Here’s what I found:
Not having a cell phone was easier than I imagined. I think that might have something to do with the small size of the community I live in. Because everything on campus is so compact, most of the people I talk to throughout the day are easily found. Instead of texting someone to find out where they were, I just went looking instead. Things were also made easier by the fact that the group of people I talk to most often usually moves in a pack. I found that by staying with the group I was usually where I wanted to be with the people I wanted to be with. It was almost liberating. Because I knew I didn’t have my phone I wasn’t worried about answering the next text message, or missing a call, I was free to just communicate with the people who were near me. During class changes I didn’t hurry to check my phone, instead I leisurely walked to the next class and even had a conversation with a friend. At lunch and dinner I was completely involved in the meal time conversation rather than coming in and out after checking my phone or sending a text message. It was nice to not constantly have my phone in my hand because it freed me up to other conversation and observations that I might have missed had I been absorbed in my phone.
While communicating at school was a fairly easy task, unfortunately the people at home I would normally talk to were neglected for the 31 hours. This is where not having a cell phone became problematic. Calling someone who is not in your immediate community is the fastest way to reach them. Because I live away from home, I call my parents and many close friends almost every day. For things like this, cell phones are absolutely necessary. When I checked my phone after the 31 hours, my mother had called four times and texted 8 times. I also had 2 other calls from a friend, and 7 others texts, many of which were from people I go to school with.
My biggest challenge was not knowing the time. I was more nervous about being late to the next class because I did not have anything on me to check the time with. I ended up scoping out clocks and asking passer bys what time it was. In general I was much earlier to my classes because I was so nervous about receiving the incorrect time, or miscalculating the time it might take me to get from one place to the other.
After the 31 hours I came to the conclusion that in this day and age, living life without a cell phone is impractical. While it did not happen in the 31 hours that I was without a phone, I often receive updates from work that are necessary to doing my job properly. I also think it’s important to be able to communicate with people that don’t live close by. This being said, I also think it’s important to put the phone down and interact with the people who do live in our immediate community.