Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

My Life Without A Cell Phone: An Amazing Tale Of Survival

I don’t own a cell phone. I never have. When people learn this fact they usually react with an exclamation of shocked disbelief, as if I lead some sort of unfathomable existence of unmitigated depravation. As if the human race didn’t manage to somehow get along just fine until about 1995, when suddenly everyone—not just the doctors and drug dealers—seemed to get a cellular. But those of us old enough to remember the Time Before Cell Phones can attest to the fact that the early adopters of this technology were mostly assholes. As a single girl in New York throughout the 1990s I can tell you that, back then, the guy in the bar with the celly was the biggest douche in the room, and he was definitely overcompensating for something. A potential hook-up who flashed a cell phone? Total dealbreaker, a complete non-negotiable. My girlfriends and I laughed at those self-important clowns.

But oh, how times have changed! I'm now a walking anachronism, a throwaway throwback, the keeper of a flame that at first burned with benign eccentricity, but soon gave way, in this new century, to a conflagration that branded me as a technological cuckoo clock, a total crazypants. And to that I say: Hardly.

The truth is, not having a cell phone all these years has afforded me and my close associates many pleasures and benefits denied to the rest of you decibel-challenged screamies. Let’s count the ways, shall we?

Convenience: So, you can call anyone you know at any time, and that’s so convenient for you, right? Well, it isn’t. Do the math. How many numbers do you have stored in your phone? Fifty, a hundred, more? Well, they’re the people for whom your phone is a great convenience—they know that they can call you and wherever you are, even if you don’t pick up, they have asserted their presence as a part of your day. You are one person with one person’s communication needs; they are legion, and they want and expect answers now. Want to know real convenience? Leave a message on my machine, or email me, and I’ll get back to you when I damn well feel like it. And if I desperately need to speak to someone when I’m away from home or office, I’ll either use a payphone (they do still exist, and I can tell you where every one south of 23rd Street is) or borrow someone else’s cell to make the call. Now that’s convenience.

Self-reliance: Did you lose your shiny little metal friend after another drunken tramp through the LES, and now you’re alone and terrified in a wilderness of solitude because you cannot get in touch with anyone you know? And now you need to send out the “I’m a careless sot” email to your entire address book begging for new contact info? I never have to worry about that particular scenario: I store my important phone numbers in an old-fashioned machine I call my brain, and as back-up I keep a rolodex at my office and an address book at my home. Have fun frantically trying to re-create your digital community—which, by the way, will never again include that model from The Box whose number you scored last year who you never called but were totally going to someday.

Punctuality/Attention Span: These two are boons for my friends and loved ones: If we have a date, I’ll almost always be on time, because I can’t call you at the restaurant, after lingering needlessly somewhere, to tell you I’m running late. Also, when we are together, you will have my undivided attention. Really. I will never glance surreptitiously down at the corner of the table to see who is calling/emailing/texting while we’re in the middle of a conversation. Which, by the way, is gross, and if you’re one of the people who does this you don’t deserve the company of other humans.

Reliable Reception: My land lines never cut out, never drop calls, and allow the person on the other end to hear me without requiring me to shriek like some menopausal housewife. Added bonus: During NYC’s occasional blackouts, the old rotary phone I keep around provides me with a link to civilization and emergency services denied to the electrically addicted masses.

Cancer-Free Skull: Don’t kid yourself. Go Google “cell phones” and “brain tumors” and proceed to piss your pants.

Freedom: Last but certainly not least, I am a free being, kids. Seriously. Unbridled and happily disconnected in a way that most cell owners simply can’t imagine. Glorious solitary cab rides, oblivious rambles though Chinatown, lazy summer afternoons at the Carmine Street pool: No device can interrupt my life. Recently, I had to admit to another parent at my daughter’s pre-school that I don’t own a cell. She looked at me as if I was a criminal, and in a way, I guess I am. I'm an irresponsible fugitive from the chains of communication that bind everyone else.

And yet I continue on, cell-less, while my friends and family wonder: When will she break down and just get a mobile already? I don’t know the answer to that question. I realize there are genuine emergency situations in which a cell phone can literally be a lifesaver. And as a parent of two my life is not the only one for which I am responsible. My resolve will crumble at some point, I guess. But it will be a sad, sad day for me, and for luddites everywhere, when I finally succumb.

Dana Albarella James is an editor and publisher. Don’t get her started on emoticons.

Photo by Ed Yourdon, via Flickr.

184 Comments / Post A Comment

gumplr (#66)

Call me.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

But how then do you arrange late night booty calls? By smoke signal?

KarenUhOh (#19)

You can't hear me now.

gumplr (#66)

quoth Vin Diesel

mathnet (#27)

You sound like such a jerk.

I can't wait for her story about not having a car or cable.

djfreshie (#875)

"I don't even own a Television!"

@mathnet and what would be wrong with that?

LondonLee (#922)

If I didn't have kids I wouldn't have one either. Mine is barely used, when we get our bill every month my usage is usually a grand total of 5 minutes.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Me too- I only got one once I was a parent, and even then I waited until 1st grade started. I can remember fondly the days before you had to walk around in public listening to some shrew barking on a phone about her yeast infection.

Grant G Brown (#3,366)

I'm still holding out. My boys are almost 5. I'm sure they'll have phones before I do. I hate all phone communication, to be honest, so having a cel on me would be masochistic.

I completely agree with the sentiment of this piece.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Please, Jesus, let "I don't have a cell phone" woman be married to "I don't have a television" man so they can sit around being smug and out of touch together.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

"Out of touch." Oh please, recap Glee for me so I can be in touch again.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Because that's the only thing on television.

This pathetic defensiveness is why people don't like "I don't own a television" guy.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

This is like that interesting conversation you always get into with some stoner.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Sorry, apparently we've all been mocking your wife.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

She's used to it. She's a rock.

doubled277 (#2,783)

A better person wouldn't ruin your last word Tullet, but sorry, it has to be pointed out: the defensiveness is all ours (yours, in this case, City) by feeling attacked enough by someone merely saying I don't own a television or cell phone – usually when asked "did you see x". It's kind of important in social situations to explain why you are not like 99% of the other people in owning a tv or cell so that you don't appear anti-social by always saying "no didn't see it" or worst "no you can't have my number etc." That's their choice. And if you didn't have some hipster-ish yearning to attempt to appear cool like them by not owning said device but know deep down you couldn't live without your own television or cell phone, you lash out, defensively. And I own both a television and a cell phone, proudly.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

How are we supposed to reconcile "a conflagration that branded me as a technological cuckoo clock, a total crazypants. And to that I say: Hardly" with "the old rotary phone I keep around"?

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Remind me to return your Walkman I borrowed, boy.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

I was looking for that! This cassette of Def Leppard's Pyromania isn't going to play itself.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Pour some sugar on me, right after we watch my Betamax copy of Xanadu.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Maybe we can take a Photograph. Careful though. When that flashbulb pops out, it is HOT.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

No Foolin'.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

You guys are Bringin' on the Heartbreak here.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

I sense some Hysteria on your part.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

You know me, dnt. I'm a man of Action!, Not Words.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Unta gleeten glouten globen…

scroll_lock (#4,122)

boy, you make my heart beat like a one-armed drummer.

Bittersweet (#765)

Y'awl are rockin' me like a hurricane.

sam-o-var (#10,594)

>Go Google “cell phones” and “brain tumors” and proceed to piss your pants.

But using your phone as a PHONE is so fin de siècle.

KenWheaton (#401)

Try "cell phones" and "ball tumors"

Tulletilsynet (#333)

And then google "cell phone" and "tumors" and "quackery."

Try "cell phones" and "ur mom"

mrschem (#1,757)

…aaand here is where I confess to using one of those anti-tumor cell phone shield/sticker things that my dear dear cousin gave to me.

KenWheaton (#401)

Maybe you should have put a little more distance between "self reliance" and this phrase: "or borrow someone else’s cell to make the call."

That's almost like "borrowing" a cigarette because you only smoke when you drink.

But other than that, I'm on board with this.

Mary HK Choi (#1,469)

"I'm not always there when you call but I'm ALWAYS on time!"

mrschem (#1,757)

awww. <3 Ja Rule+JLo.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

I could say many things about the actual topic of this post but it's all mostly been said already so I'll just say that it's not J. Lo, it's Ashanti. Ahem.

mrschem (#1,757)

. this is what happens when i try to hang with the kids.

mrschem (#1,757)

and you're right. 'I'm Real' is a totally inferior product.

k-rex (#2,909)

I believed the same things until I got one 5 or 6 years ago.
I found out it wasn't the lack of cell phone that made me considerate and self-reliant. I was always late, but now I can call and let people know how late.
I'll let the tumors and the brain damage fight it out amongst themselves.
James is correct about cell phones awful sound. It's just awful.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Cell phones actually enrich your life because they broaden the range of things that you can really hate.

ignerd (#9,456)

Don't get me started on those assholes who own a personal computer and have their own connection to this "internet" thing!!!1!

Also: I love the transition from asking to borrow someone's phone to riff on self reliance. A+ trolling. Bavo.

Dave Bry (#422)

I held out til maybe around 5 years ago. And one of the best things I heard, around 2003 or so, probably, was someone telling me, "At this point, not having a cell phone qualifies as rudeness. You have a responsibility to be as accessible as everyone else in society. What makes you think you're so special?"

I don't know to what extent I agree with this. But to some extent. And it's driven home when I call someone and am for some reason unable to leave a message. Because their voice mail is full or whatever. I feel indignant.

Actually, I still don't carry my cell-phone around with me so much. It usually stays in a change dish by the door, where I never hear it buzz. Which I like. Which is I guess to say, I am sympathetic to a lot of the points made here.

atipofthehat (#797)

Luckily, it's possible to have a mobile phone and remain as inaccessible as you please.

metoometoo (#230)

I have a crappy Nokia cell phone that I use so rarely, I get confused and freaked out when it rings.

djfreshie (#875)

Convenience: Do what I do and leave your cell at home during the day if you work. Leave it wherever you're not. Tell your friends and family you do this. PROBLEM SOLVED.

Self Reliance: If you ever need to borrow a friend's cellphone, you are not self-reliant. End.

Punctuality/Attention Span: People who are late are late because they are dicks. Not because of their phone. People who look at their phone are the same people who would be looking at the cute waitstaff, or their wristwatch or whatever. Completely unrelated. Still dicks, but nothing to do with technology.

Reliable Reception: POINT WELL MADE!

Cancer-Free Skull: Mmmmhmmm, have you ever tried googling any innocuous symptom or malady? Because trust me, google will tell you it's cancer. Every time.

Freedom: Good for you! You're free from the thing you don't own! As are many people from many things.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I recently realized that in my local pub, not liking hip-hop qualifies as rudeness.

ShanghaiLil (#260)

On the other hand, the ability to text means that I can forgo many conversations. I hate most conversations, so total plus.

The key is learning not to answer the phone when a) it's someone you don't want to talk to, or b) you don't fucking want to. Tell your friends you do this. Tell them to leave a message and you'll call them back when you fucking feel like it. Tell them that if they call over and over again, you'll never answer AND never return their call. It takes about a month to train those hundreds of people, but then — total convenience!

mugczar (#1,564)

THIS. Just because people can call you doesn't automatically mean they can REACH you. Owning (and carrying) a phone does not mean you have to be a slave to it.

cherrispryte (#444)

"borrow someone else’s cell"

And just like that, those four words voided your entire smug little essay.

Limaceous (#2,392)

My thoughts exactly!

Many years ago, my cell-less boyfriend began borrowing my phone when we were together and giving out my number to his friends. And that is when he realized that maybe he should get his own phone. Self-reliance!

P.S. It is good to see you are back. You were missed.

cherrispryte (#444)

@Limaceous – aww, thanks!

DMcK (#5,027)

Not to mention you're basically asking someone to hand over their contact info to a stranger.

TableNine (#1,104)

You should totally blog this on friendster.

BadUncle (#153)

You can do that at an "internet cafe."

MythReindeer (#5,553)

My Life as a Smug Asshole: An Annoying Tale of Being a Hipster Douche

Smoking_Robot (#7,632)

I didn't have a cellphone before it was cool to not have one.

DMcK (#5,027)

The value of owning a cell phone has proved itself to me a) when I realized during a drive from North Carolina to NY with my mom and Alzheimer's-afflicted dad during a violent storm that we had absolutely no way of contacting anyone for help should something unthinkable happen, and b)by the fact that nobody's buzzer works. And "decibel-challenged screamies"? OK, I'll, uh, text quieter! Jesus.

Bittersweet (#765)

Ssshhh, DMcK, your commenting is a bit loud…

Asa Hawks (#5,190)

I can't wait to hear your thoughts about these newfangled horseless carriages.

pepper (#676)

I cried because I had no iPad, until I met a woman who had no cell phone…

Honest question, why do some people feel obligated to answer/respond to everything that comes in? And why do people think having a cell phone means having to answer every call? Do they not know about silent mode? Or the passive agressive Ignore Call?

forrealz (#1,530)


LDM (#10,599)

I've heard the complaint far too often that cell phones are a hassle. It's my landline that's ringing off the hook all day with telemarketers, but if I get a call on my cell it's always someone I at least know. Hell, at least a cell can be put on vibrate. There's just no sense to that argument unless you consider your friends and family a nuisance.

roboloki (#1,724)


ejcsanfran (#489)

And where am I supposed to play Angry Birds – at a video game arcade?

propertius (#361)

Without a mobile, how can you arrange for an alternate hook-up if the one you're currently in is a dud?

MythReindeer (#5,553)

I try not to make a call while I'm in someone, but I don't know anything about your life.

Senor_Wences (#2,234)

Girl 1: "This bar is the worst, it's filled with frottage and vomit."

Girl 2: "Let's all go to that great bar and have a beautiful time that is filled with laughs and tasty bacon snacks and ends with hot sexualities for all!"

Girl 3: "Somebody call Dana about the change of plan."

All Girls: "Hahahahahahaha!"

Girl 3: "Oh, right. Well, I guess it's frottage and vomit for Dana."

Girl 2: "Frottage and vomit for Dana!"

Girl 1: "And the music goes wah-wah-wahhhhh!"

djfreshie (#875)

Senor Wences, that was the best.

gumplr (#66)

Terrance and Phillip, eat your hearts out.

joeks (#5,805)

Oh shut up. A cell phone is an incredibly useful thing to have.

I have to shake my head whenever I see these point-by-point "arguments" against very common things like cell phones, or, like, scotch tape.

djfreshie (#875)

Convenience: When you have a scotch tape, it's not the convenience to you but more the convenience to other people who know you have a scotch tape roll, and wherever you're around friends and family will be like "can you scotch tape this poster up flimsily?" Me, I never carry the stuff, so nobody ever asks.

Self Reliance: While everyone is walking around, taping things up, or closing things, or wrapping things, I'm doing nothing of the sort. Need something held up? HANDS. Need something closed? HANDS. I can pretty much do anything with these babies. And if I am ever in a dire situation that requires things held together and my hands are just tied well I can just ask a friend who has scotch tape. "Can I borrow some scotch tape?" I always say. "Sure, asshole. Here," They always say. We're friends!

Punctuality/Attention Span: Ever notice how when you're with someone with Scotch tape, they're always admiring it, and taping stuff together? I notice it, and those people don't deserve good scotch tape OR my friendship, except when I'm borrowing some of it. Also, ever heard this doozie: "I was late, because I was scotch-taping"? No scotch tape, no excuse. That's one of the many great benefits of being a not-owner-of-scotch-tape.

Reliable Reception: It's hard to hear people talking into a roll of scotch tape. Notice the big whole in the middle of Duct Tape? Not that I would be caught dead using the stuff, but you get great reception with that hole.

Cancer-Free Fingers: Google Scotch-Tape Cancer. No really, google it! CANCER FINGERS.

Freedom: I don't own scotch tape, and I never have to worry about scotch taping, and that, my friends, is what they call "freedom."

Mindpowered (#948)


Oh the Humanity

djfreshie (#875)

Masking Tape is to tapes as voice masking phones are to phones. Can you pull off a successful kidnapping/ransom with either? Maybe. With both? Definitely.

ejcsanfran (#489)

Any discussion of masking must include Julie Masking.


djfreshie (#875)


Mindpowered (#948)

Not the same! NSFMT!

Waightmn (#10,606)

This bitch probably uses a landline…

I've ran into her type before, always the same boo shit. She feels glorified for going out of her own way to not use a cell phone and does a piss poor job of convincing anyone else to do the same.

It's not about cell phones at this point, it is about the author. You want a gold star for sacrificing convienience

KarenUhOh (#19)

And here's yours for jettisoning tact.

bassknives (#2,903)


And he didn't read far enough in to know whether she has a landline.

roboloki (#1,724)

i own a television…it is for watching movies.
i have a cell phone…it is for texts and angry birds.
technology is my bitch.

Johnathan Farmer (#5,260)

so succinct. so reasonable.

Michael Capozzi (#10,602)


I wish I was more like you.
I wish nobody ever needed me in an emergency.
I wish my employer could solve all of their own problems and monitor all of their own systems.
I wish I could live my life knowing how to get to every place that I needed to go, or just be happy to be lost in some backwater town I've never been to when trying to reach a critical system that has failed.
I wish that my fiancée made decisions without my input, I truly would love the surprises that I would end up paying for.
I wish that when my mom got into a car accident or my fiancée ended up in the emergency room (both happened within two weeks) that it would take me hours to find out.
I wish I could write everything that I needed to know down on a notepad then go home hours later and look it up instead of knowing it right away.
I wish I could enjoy the six crappy radio stations that are in my area playing the same 15 songs over and over again instead of listening to Pandora in my car (which I spend 90 minutes in everyday), or at the gym, or walking in the park.
I wish I didn't have so many games to play while waiting in a doctor's office for an hour.

Actually, now that I think about it, I really don't wish I were you…

Moff (#28)

Michael, I don't think anybody really wants to be you, either, man. You are not making your life sound that great, buddy!

@Michael Capozzi sucks being you

Mindpowered (#948)

Exactly like my friend who never got a drivers license. He always assumed we'd be there to drive him around. Until we moved away.

Jesus, what do you pull out of your pocket in order to get out of an awkward conversation? A deck of playing cards?

atipofthehat (#797)

That could work!
Wait! Let me show you this card trick!
Uh…pick any card, I think that's how it starts….

BadUncle (#153)

I usually pull out my harmonica. It'll clear the room faster than an fragmentation grenade.

Kadath (#10,608)

.."the early adopters of this technology were mostly assholes".

So true then. Today the assholes are the fat, poorly-dressed people who think slapping a blue tooth in their ear somehow makes them important while they are standing in line at Subway. I want to slap them in the head (bluetooth side of course).

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I once watched a guy give a presentation wearing one of those Borg implants the entire time. About what? No idea. I spent the entire time glaring evilly at the stupid thing. Did he think he might get an important call and have to take it right there in front of everybody?

cherrispryte (#444)

Why did you think it necessary to include "fat" as an adjective here?

Kadath (#10,608)

You're right. It was just the picture of the last person I saw. They are in all shapes and sizes.

lotsoftreble (#2,715)

I want to say I like the freedom of walking the earth unencumbered by any device, but a cellphone can easily be left in a drawer. I don't have a cellphone because I'm cheap and rarely need one. Phones are everywhere. No one needs to call me. I am okay with that.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

As a person who didn't get a cell until very late 2005 but even now never answers hers or makes calls on it – it's strictly for texting, tumbling on the go, or taking Hipstamatic pictures of the cat without getting off the couch – I am mystified by people who conceive of having one as bothersome. It's more bothersome to your friends to be constantly borrowing theirs.

frabjous (#7,401)

"My cell phone has changed my life. I never talk to anyone." –Frederick Seidel

Lamurai (#10,613)

Um, thank you for sharing but now get your butt off my barstool and go find somewhere else to be. kthaxbai.

Andrew Piccone (#7,185)

I got rid of my Blackberry in November and have been cell-less ever since. It's great 90% of the time, I swear. It's those situations though, when you have to make those personal calls that you just would rather not make from your desk at work. Like to your doctor, or your parents or your significant other. I'm in my early 20's and most of my friends parents either pay for their phones completely or are on some sort of family plan. If that was the case for me I probably wouldn't have gotten rid of it. However I realized one day I was paying $90 a month to read twitter on the toilet and it was time to make some changes.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Double the age and for "… friends' parents pay for their phones …" read "… employers pay for their phones and require them to be OC about using it …" and count yourself lucky.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

I remember envying coworkers with Blackberries.

Bittersweet (#765)

@Tulle: yep. *sigh*

dumdum (#10,055)

I would have already called and been rejected by that model from The Box. Your argument is invalid.

Johnathan Farmer (#5,260)

i'm not an old so maybe i'm just not able to understand the joys of luddism. maybe you just won't understand wtf i'm talking about. but…
mobile data traffic now the dominates network usage (1). that is, mobile networks now serve more IP services than telephony. by 2015 the world is expected to have about one mobile device per capita with significantly more bandwidth even in rural areas (2). it's silly to think that cell phone use these days has much to do with making voice calls. i use between 10-40 minutes on my phone and a modest 100 SMSs. however, i use about .6-1.5 GB worth of data per month. so, i'm always on the phone but never on the phone. and i think (read: have empirical data showing) that's true of a majority of mobile users today.
TL;DR – don't be such a dick. if you insist on not having a cell phone don't ask others for theirs. that shit is annoying as your post is smug.
1. http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/esafety/doc/2011/mob_world_congr_2011.pdf.
2. http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11-520862.html

"By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide."


TheJetSet (#10,615)

Anyone who leaves a message on my "machine" is an asshole.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Now tell us how you feel about "grocer's quotes."

JohnnyP (#10,616)

"A potential hook-up who flashed a cell phone? Total dealbreaker, a complete non-negotiable."


dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

No. Go down to your local Blockbusters and rent Hot Tub Time Machine. THIS IS TRUE

Moff (#28)

Seconded! (Edit: That is: IT IS TRUE.)

Agent_Ry (#10,617)

I sat here trying to decide who to agree with, or if I had my own personal take on it, and I just realized…who cares? If you don't want to have a cell phone, don't have one. If you want to have one, have one. Why do you have to argue over who's out of touch or who's this or that? We're all just living through life the best we can and we make our decisions based on what we feel will improve our lives at any given moment. What works for some won't work for everyone and there's no need for name-calling or admonishment of any kind.

Moff (#28)

You shut the hell up.

djfreshie (#875)

I'd like to see a new kind of comment board where the people that agree with the article get their comment highlighted in blue, while the people who disagree with the article have their comment highlighted in red. People who neither agree nor disagree with the article can go back to Switzerland. Then if you agree or disagree with certain comments, there's a whole different colour scheme. It sounds really complicated but it isn't but it is.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Sounds nice but it's a slippery slope from there to Condorcet method elections

djfreshie (#875)

Slippery? More like, it's a delightful slope to the vastly superior Condorcet method.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Should I call you Butterfly or Chad?

Kadath (#10,608)

You're not playing the game properly. You're supposed to have an opinion about every trivial thing you read, and then refuse to admit that anyone else can be right if they disagree with you. Sheesh.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

We do play a game like the one you describe, but we follow slightly different rules than those you mention.

ryan hadlock (#10,618)

Cell-less women are smug.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Is this cascade of 10,61X numbers on purpose? Trying to figure out how blown my mind should be.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Catnip to new readers: "Pile on teh old who does something different!"

JohnnyP (#10,616)

Seems some people resent newcomers playing in this here sandbox.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Please don't hurt us, newcomers.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Not resentment! I just noticed that 10615, 10616, 10617, and 10618 made comments all in a row. That's amazing! I haven't seen 1242 in months. (Also, if this resentment comment wasn't directed at me, forget I said anything!)

Br. Seamus (#217)

Cell phones don't emit ionizing radiation. Hence, not a cause of cancer by any known biological mechanism. Period, the end.

And I don't know if anyone else has offered a similar suggestion, but get the fuck off your high horse.

Abe Sauer (#148)

This essay is being mimeographed and handed out to the population by certain North African and Middle Eastern rulers in the hopes it will catch on.

harimirch (#10,439)

You're living in denial: Let's count the ways:
Inconvenience: 1. Guess what, your cellphone can function like your phone at home… it's called turning it off or silencing your phone. And also there's this thing called "voicemail" the cellular equivalent for "answering machine," which means that you can still call back your friends whenever you damn well please. 2. Using a pay phone is never convenient for the obvious reasons: a) you have to drop what you're doing to locate one… b) locating a pay phone isn't convenient: Sure you know the location of every pay phone South of 23rd Street. Let's throw your ass in Chicago or Los Angeles and buh-bye convenience. You'll be that chick carrying a lonely planet paperweight and foldable map trying to navigate your ass around the city looking for a pay phone. 2. Borrowing another person's cellphone may be convenient for you but annoying to your friends… they pay for their cellphone so you're just piggy-backing on them.. in the long run you'll become burdensome to your friends. Now that's INconvenience.
2. Back-up: Since you're a walking anachronism I don't expect you to understand this term we use called -"back-up" You plug your phone in this thing we call a "computer" and back-up your contacts in the event that you lose your phone. You can get a new one and restore your contacts just like magic. So you have a rolodex huh? What happens when you lose that? That'll be fun to handwrite all those contacts all over again… Why not just chisel their names and numbers on pieces of stone, it'll probably take the same amount of time.
3. Punctuality/ Attention Span: I'm sorry, have you SEEN "An Affair to Remember"? If that chick had a cellphone Carry Grant's character wouldn't have spent months in sadness wondering why his love didn't show up at the Empire State Building. Btw, if you're dating people who are looking at their cellphone the whole time during your date, it's not the phone that's the problem… Normal people silence their phones and put them in their pockets/purses.
4. Reliable Reception: This is probably you're only semi-decent point. Except, you're probably calling someone using a cellphone… and if their calls drop all the time like you say, you won't be able to talk to them regardless if you were using a land line…But apparently your phone calls are going off without a hitch so their calls are probably not dropping… So you're driving all the way home every time you want to call someone… when all you have to do suck up an occasional inconvenience of a dropped call to press the "re-dial" button. Which is more bothersome… dropped call or spending gas/money to drive/cab/subway your ass home or use a pay phone to make a call?
5. Cancer-Free Skull: a) you're acting a little desperate to prove an unsellable point. b) if you're paranoid and pissing your pants, use what's called a "headset"… and also a diaper…
6. Freedom: You're not free, you're chained to your land line. You're chained to pay-phones. You're chained to friends who own cellphones. You're just CHAINED to the past.

hari mirch is a hindi term which means green chili pepper. I'm here to spice things up.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

Spicing things up here at the Awl with your crazy opinions! Are you going to end every comment of yours with that bit at the end there? Please do.

Moff (#28)

PX This!

djfreshie (#875)

Are we doing those wacky signature things here now?

"Funky Buttlovin!" "Did He just say Funky Buttlovin?"
-Rookie of the Year.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

djfreshie, I won't rest until we have signature capability and can post images in said signatures so I can announce my allegiance to the CW hit Hellcats in every comment I make.

mrschem (#1,757)

I'm gonna keep the school theme going and say its Cary Grant. Ahem.

djfreshie (#875)

Murgatroid, it would be my dream come true

Savannah: "Well, if we’re going to improvise on cheerleading, don’t we need some kind of plan?"
-Hellcats, CW Tuesdays at 9/8c

harimirch (#10,439)

lol! I probably should have edited my post-comment. Sorry CARY.

hari mirch is a hindi term which means green chili pepper. I'll burn the roof of your mouth. (this is for you @Murgatroid)

Mindpowered (#948)

Now I don't what's scarier. the fact that I like Hellcats or that it's set in the Southern US yet filmed in Vancouver Canada. HST,HST,HST!

Murgatroid (#2,904)

Oh god, maybe I should have mentioned a show that I actually like.

Also, it's kinda scary yet endearing that Vancouver can fill in for Memphis. I've been to both and I can tell you that there are not many similarities between the two!

I'm a Simla mirch, stuff me with aloo masala? Oh, that didn't go well.

JohnHughes (#10,632)

Slow clap.

spostaby (#1,081)

I don't have a cell phone, but only because I'm freaked out by monthly bills. My reasons go like this:
Convenience: Hey, my bank account has money in it!
Self-reliance: I can pay for things!
Punctuality/Attention Span: I don't gaze into space thinking about my bank account. Okay, not quite as much.
Reliable Reception: My debit card is always able to pay for things.
Cancer-free Skull: Health insurance. Kidding, my parents pay for that.
Freedom: equals money.
But then, I realize things might be different for people who have ever held a full-time year-round job/aren't still teenagers for a few more months.

Oh, this is where everyone is. How's it going, you all?

Mindpowered (#948)

(In awl rhyming slang)


Alpha2Beta (#10,521)

Tell me you read books with actual pages by candlelight while eating dinner made from a wood-burning stove.

Sent from my iPhone

@Alpha2Beta the sent from my iPhone part killed me hahah

caw_caw (#5,641)

Putting the piece I've been working on about this subject back in the draft drawer.

Tully Mills (#6,486)

But how am I supposed to deposit checks and take pictures that look old?

KarenUhOh (#19)

I'm sending a telegram to Andy Rooney to change next week's essay.

MaryMary (#1,447)

Typical Text Message I receive: "Sorry love- 5 minutes away" (already 10 minutes late)

I bought my first after 9/11, when I read of the goodbye calls some people managed to get through to those they loved. I like to think that I buy iPhones just to bother people like Balk, when really, deep down, I know otherwise.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Golly am I the only one who thinks the author is just being flippant? (Seems to happen about once a week.)

geez (#10,629)

geez. stumbled upon this unfortunately, so I HAD to signup an account just to reply to your lame entry.
You must be still single. The attitude and tone in which you wrote shows me that you are bitter and feel left out for whatever reason and you are lashing out to get back at the random people who are connected with mobile phones. You ever heard of 'to each his own?'.. man… sour.
I say you get off the Internet. What are you doing with a convenient piece of machinery called a computer anyway. Don't you have a Rolodex-like thing to do your 'editting and publishing' on.. like a diary or book or something?
Thanks for putting me up to this rare response, hope I never see your posts and will never visit this site(don't know who's site it is but this left a sour taste in my mouth). TATA

Tully Mills (#6,486)

The author's relationship status is irrelevant. Hopefully your responses will stay rare, indeed.

cherrispryte (#444)

And with this one thrilling piece of commentary, the entire internet – nay, the whole world! – was forever changed.

melis (#1,854)

I do like the idea of registering with the first word of one's inaugural post, however. Geez.

Um, my post lacks the requisite snarky-ness, but if you have children, please get a cell phone for emergencies.

My healthy son once had an unexpected medical emergency in his car seat. There was only time to park, pull him out and call 911 using my cell.

Everything turned out fine. But tho I'm not especially religious, I have often thanked God that my phone was, yes, in my back pocket. Insert your own ironic-y punchline here, then one mom to another, *please* get a cell phone.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Should've made it funny, at least. Thank God for the comments.

Ding007 (#10,640)

This article would be a good one…if it were true. Yes, some or most people are attached to their phones. Some interesting points in the story are:
1- your answering machine. To people with cell phones, this is called "voice mail." It too gives you the ability to call someone back when you damn well please.
2- your backups of your number. Most people do have some sort of there address/contacts backed up somewhere being printed out or on a flash drive.
3- having your attention at a dinner. This is PURE choice on when/where/why you check your phone. If my wife and I go out to dinner, I want to make sure our kids are ok, so yea, I would/will be checking my phone.
It seems like your the "douche" in your own story for profiling people and making them seem almost barbaric for doing "normal" functions with technology. Get with the times and you might understand these tendencies a little bit better

thedailyzack (#10,646)

I was unaware that people even phone one another anymore. I swear the next iPhone model will do away with the calling feature altogether. The point of most cellphone now is not to "phone" anyone at all. Rather it is a means to express one's self-importance over Facebook and Twitter while on the go.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Oh GOD enough with the grocer's "quotes" head hurts ow

zanderlicious (#10,651)

Oh, wow. Do you churn your own butter too?

Samantha Hall (#10,657)

It would seem that you live in NYC, or at the very least some large city where pay phones are still quite prevalent. I'm from a small town and when I was in a hit-and-run, I would have had no way to contact the police or anyone else if it were not for my cell. I think I would be safe in saying that most cities I have lived in don't have usable pay phones. And your whole take on technology making us its bitch is a weak and lame argument. I can be detached from my cell quite easily and remain a functioning human being. So yes, if you don't want a cell don't have one. But you shouldn't make these grand assumptions about cell phone users, it just makes you look bad. Come up with some new selling points as to why living without a cell phone is so great and get back to us all.

Parleyview (#7,337)

Thank you jesus for inventing the internet so I can snort at these wit-ster exchanges while not living in new york city.

avieira781 (#10,675)

I had a teacher in film school who refused to buy a cell phone. He had been a working screenwriter until a series of hilariously bad business decisions in the 90's found him tending bar until a similarly-obscure old friend took control of a third-rate film school and invited him aboard as a writing teacher. While spending five years on one script (convinced it was a masterpiece), he never got a cell phone. Why the back story? Because he was as ego-maniacal, self-congratulatory and obnoxious as the writer of this article.

goldfish (#10,728)

As someone with a rotary phone and without a cell phone (or TV since some seem to think the two are connected), I can definitely relate!

Sarah Huston (#10,747)

* most payphones are toilets, broken toilets. or just rely on other people… great plan, teach that to young people.
* 'frantically trying to re-create your digital community' – who doesn't backup their phone? and a rolodex, really? no. fuck that, you know a rolodex is shite.
* 'almost always be on time, because I can’t call you at the restaurant' – worst argument in a steaming pile of shitty rhetoric. maybe, just maybe, another variable could be invovlved with promptness?
* 'by the way, is gross, and if you’re one of the people who does this you don’t deserve the company of other humans.' – you're right its rude and annoying and etc. but the underlying old school rule still applies – be more interesting or buy more drinks. or find friends that respect your rigid weirdness and are willing to put their life on hold for more of your useless prattle. gross, indeed. Your warped opinion, stated like fact – you will be the only one, ever, to make that mistake.
* you're landline is never out, just 'all the circuits are busy'.
* 'The final paper states that overall there is no link between cellphone use and brain tumors. However, the investigators report that study participants with the highest level of cellphone use had a 40 percent higher risk for a type of brain tumor called a glioma. That risk, though, is discounted because of potential “biases and errors” that “prevent a causal interpretation,” the investigators wrote.' NYT 3/18/10 piss, not in my pants. also, counting on these odds must mean you don't drive a car, right? must hate those odds.
* I realize there are genuine emergency situations in which a cell phone can literally be a lifesaver. And as a parent of two'
wha? huh? wtf? YOU THINK? you're 'alone time' could be, still at your discrestion, used as save your kid's life time. You could always just slam 'em to voicemail, for old times sake – unfettered and children, does. not. compute.
jesus fucking, nonsense. Dana pull the emoticon out of your ass and get a tether to the real world, you're just fucking asinine.

Cell phones do come with on/off switches. so you won't be bothered all the time. I am saving 10.00 a month with my cell. I do NOT have a land line. The author became the old "cell phone douche".

rad (#186,600)

Out of curiosity I searched "my life is my phone" and this hit struck me as strange. Here is someone who touts his life without a cell phone, but is obviously desperate to be heard.
Perhaps this person could add the computer to the list of things he does not use.

this has to be the stupidest article that i have ever read aaaand the stupidest person. What if someone close to you or YOU have an ugly accident!? Are you going to run to the next payphone if there is one!?
Stupid hippie…

this has to be the stupidest article that i have ever read aaaand the stupidest person. What if someone close to you or YOU have an ugly accident!? Are you going to run to the next payphone if there is one!?
Stupid hippie…

Dcapron (#188,809)

I find no problem with not having a cell phone,though i do have an old motorola v3 razr.I don't text and on the rare occasion that get a phone call,i use bluetooth head set.My reasons for hating cell phones is because i have a job where if they do get ahold of me,it means i have to work and i love my home,fishing,shooting time way more than working.Ninty-nine % of the time i don't answer my home phone or cell phone.

I love doing things outdoors to much to waste money and time investing in trinkets,besides when i'm wilderness camping and hunting,there is absolutly no cell service anyway.I am married and i have 3 sons,none of which need,deserve,or should have a cell phone untill they can pay for it themselves.

The biggest reasons i hate cell phones.
1)i'm cheap
2)i don't really see the need to stay connected
3)it would cut into my (me time)
4)i love being outdoors and comletely free of distractions.
5)when i'm out doing my thing,there is no need to have a cell,they won't work where i'm going and i like it that way.

The worst thing ever is to be sitting out in the middle of a 30,000 acre lake and get a call or text,or be sitting out on the side of a ridge hunting and get call/text.Cell phones have a place but it aint in my pack when i'm out and about.


williboy58 (#190,967)

glad to see im not the only one who dosent own a cell phone. and i agree with everything the writer said,every time i see some idiot with that device glued to their face .or the fingers going 90miles an hour while driving endangering the life of everyone.i say why is that cell phone or the text that important,relax smell the roses get off that damn thing,enjoy life.

I'm guessing she's overcompensating for something as well. Why do we need to hear about this story about nothing?

e-truckdriver (#191,485)

long haul trucker for thirty years..The cell phone is invaluable…911 calls..contacting any number of vendors and shippers..It is a integral part of my job..no brain cancer yet and I just had a ct scan…keep calling

When I mention that I don't have a cell phone, the rationale for having one just pours in – far exceeding my rationale for not having one. Curious, don't you think. As far as pedestrians talking, rather than taking responsibility for their own preservation; "If you're on the phone, you're on your own." I'm busy taking responsibility for my self-preservation.

James Allen (#193,804)

This article should be subtitled "My amazing tale of selfishness." Because the author lied when she says she lives without the convenience of a cell phone. She doesn't. When she wants to use a cell phone she just borrows someone else's. So now she's still enjoying the convenience of a cell phone but making someone else pay the bill. It would be like if I wrote an article called "My life without a job: An amazing tale of survival," then proceeded to smugly relate how I don't need a job like all those other fools out there because I collect welfare checks.
Well, let me tell you something, parasite. Go ahead and ask to borrow my cell phone so you can quickly make a call, and be prepared to be greeted with a cold stare. I have had people ask to borrow my phone and that's usually what they get.
And as for not being bothered by people, well, my phone has this nifty silent feature, which gets used a hell of a lot.

This is why your dear dying friend died and you did not know he/she wanted to see you one last time.

kelvarolvar (#238,293)

Wow she haters on here I have an emergency cell with only a couple hundred minutes so that I can be reached in a true emergency or reach others. The things are a pest also I do not have cable I have internet it is oh so much better if I want to watch tv I can when I choose to commercial free via netflix huluplus amazon prime call me primitive I don't hate technology I just believe just because it exists doesn't mean we have to use it.

TheDude73 (#239,990)

I gave up my cell phone two months ago mainly to save money but to also enjoy the freedom of being disconnected. Sure, a phone is nice if and when you break down or are in a waiting room, but $70 a month PLUS all those help-the-poor-get-a-phone fees on top of taxes…bound to a 24 month contract? Is it really worth it? Let's not even mention Big Brother spying on us through those phones, or the head or hip tumor you're more likely to get right in the same spot where you hold your phone or have in your pocket.

The next time you're out in public observe the Smartphone Zombies. Realize that's what you also look like as you're helplessly gazing at the hypnotic glow of the screen in your hand. Can you go a minute without checking messages or emails? How did you manage to live a day before this invention?

I do have a home phone that only works when it is connected to my computer. And even then only when I want to plug it in.

I also don't have a FB account. No cell phone? No Faceblah? How ever do I manage to get out of bed in the mornings?

13707@twitter (#248,164)

Have never owned one in my life and don't intend to. I don't like paying another monthly bill. The closest thing I own is an iPod Touch and that is good enough. No monthly bills from that thing. No bothersome phone calls. I like my land line.

I'm reading this on my cell phone.

I am 48 years old. I build and repair all electronics. Stereos, cell phones, computers etc. I have never owned a cell phone or felt the need to have one. I have a home phone for 2-way communication, a stereo for music and a tv for viewing. Oh, and my pc for data processing and manipulation. Also have memorized 50 or so friends numbers. no need for extra crap.

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