In the Technology Free Zone

Friday, January 14, 2011

On a daily basis, the low-tech cord phone gets used more frequently

I have a friend who gets a little nervous whenever she drives through a national forest and loses cell phone reception. She worries about if something happened and she wasn't able to call for help.

When I start the drive out of town and towards the cabin, cell phone service peters out after about five miles. For the next 50 miles, I can depend only on me and commonsense (and lots of helpful neighbors) to get me home safe and sound. And the thing is . . . most of us like it this way.

Whenever cell service is purposed for up here, usually about half the residents get all up in arms about it. The general attitude about cell phone service in the area seems to be that a great host of cell phones will descend from the heavens . . . and ruin everything! I think it's probably only a matter of time (like a decade or so) before cell phones are part of daily life up here, but for now, the general argument residents give against having cell phones is that, as a region driven by tourist industry, people come here "to get away from it all" and cell phones defeat that purpose. The vast majority of rental cabins up here don't offer televisions either. We kind of like to impose our lifestyle on others. 

While the majority of my phone calls are made on an old touchtone from 1970 with a cord that allows me to move in three foot circle while on it, I do have a cell phone. I use the phone when I'm in town or when traveling. It's on the cheapest plan you can get when you sweet-talk Verizon.  (They're pretty reasonable about it when they realize you only use your phone for eight minutes every month.)

I often forget how ubiquitous cell phones are. Several times last summer I would give someone a telephone number, expecting them to use it when they got back to their cabin, only to have them whip out their cell phones and start doing the "do I have service here" interpretative dance.  "Oh no, I'm sorry," I'd have to say. "That's not going to work here." Actually that's not completely true. You can often pick up a cell signal from Canada, but let me tell you, international cell phone rates are expensive! And how many times did I have to tell people heading out into the Boundary Waters that their phone probably wasn't going to work out there. So how about not twisting your ankle on that portage, eh?

I wonder if we've turned something meant as a convenient tool into a bit of crutch. I certainly don't view cell phones are harbingers of the apocalypse, but I do think there are benefits to living your life as though help isn't just a phone call away.

The news earlier this week that Verizon and iPhone have partnered, kind of went over my head. I have slowest thumbs in the west. I probably couldn't figure out how to answer your phone if you asked me to. All that flipping and sliding and shaking and you can take pictures on this thing too, oh boy! What a complicated world of teeny, tiny screens we've crafted for ourselves!

Life without cell phones suits me fine, but the thought of not having our satellite internet (which has wonky bandwidth requires and will soon be replaced by high speed fiber optic option, oh please, oh please, oh please make that replacement come soon) makes me shudder. Technology is everywhere. What we can and can't do without depends upon how we structure our days and our lives. 

How would you feel without a cell phone?


  1. Pretty good actually. Since I arrived in the USA I havent used my German cellphone and Skip is urging me to get an American one, because between here and there something terrible could happen....

  2. Technology can make our lives more complicated and in some cases this is true for me but I think the benefit for me outweighs the complications most of the time:) I would like an escape from my technological world at times. I am your newest follower:)

  3. Due to an unplanned job loss by my husband exactly one year ago I have not had a cell phone for a year. To be honest it has been a nice break. Your not accessible 24/7. When i'm in the car i'm listening to my mp3's or music not talking on the phone. I know I get another one, for the convenience and all the fun apps but for now i'm content.
    Namaste, Carol


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