Prepare yourself for some shocking information. I do not have a cell phone and neither does my husband. This is a conscious choice that we make, checking in every now and then to see if it’s still the right thing for us.
I fully admit that there are great benefits to having a cell-phone; instant communication, a multitude of incredible apps (that I am totally jealous of), the internet at your constant fingertips, GPS, etc, etc. I do think those things have tremendous value. But, I also think a home phone, face-to-face communication, a computer, a camera, and even maps have value too. And I already have those things.
It isn’t so much the benefits of technology that have me wondering. And I’m not talking about people who use technology appropriately and responsibly, because I know MANY of those people. What worries me is the flip-side, the “risks” of having a cell-phone, that I want nothing to do with right now.
It’s texting while driving. It’s taking hundreds of photos of inconsequential or staged moments that don’t reflect the true reality of our day. It’s the way we feel the need to force our experiences to be Instagramable or Pinterest Worthy (and yes those are actually words now). It’s the way those photos make other people feel badly about their own unraveling, imperfect lives. It’s the way we’ve come to rely on our phones for everything, even basic knowledge. But I think the scariest part is the addictive nature of this technology and the negative impact it actually has on our relationships with ourselves and others. It’s the way it quietly steals the precious, fleeting moments of our life away by offering us a distraction from the sometimes tedious, but mostly beautiful, real world.
Studies are pouring out linking heavy smartphone use to a host of negative effects. One in four cell-phone users polled said their partner was too distracted by their cell phone. Excessive use is tied to materialism, impulsiveness, impaired self-esteem, anxiety, irritability, headaches, eyestrain and more.
Are there ways to manage these issues? Of course! But as a woman, a mother, and a wife, I already feel like I have enough to manage. My plate (like yours) is so full of what I need to manage in any given day that the thought of putting ANYTHING else on there makes me want to run screaming into the wild. So, for now, I choose not to participate.
And this is what my life looks like without a cellphone:
I email or call my husband at work if I really need to tell him something. I take turns with everyone in my family when I want to use the computer. I have a super awesome camera (that I’m still learning how to work!). I use my home phone to call people. We even bust out maps (fold-out style) on our road trips.
It isn’t always easy. The convenience of a cell phone is phenomenal. Not having one has forced me to try and be where I say I’m going to be, when I say I’m going to be there. But I think it’s also made me tap in to real moments and experience them fully, by bypassing the option of selfies and the like. My moments belong to me and me alone. I bear witness to them, and I kind of like that.
Because my camera is in a case, it makes me think twice about taking it out for a photo. I ask myself (partially out of laziness, partially out of honesty) if I really need a picture of this moment.
Of course, I do NOT think everyone should throw their cell-phone out the window, nor am I saying that I will never own one. Each of our lives look so different and we all have extremely different needs and desires. What I am saying, is that sometimes we think that what we have will make us happier, when often, what we don’t have can produce equally great results.