I’d like to give a little more perspective on why I’m opposed to cell phones. There are several reasons (I’m not convinced they’re safe, for one thing), but most fundamental to me is that they add yet another layer of infrastructure that has to be maintained and protected. Life is so complicated now that we have very little flexibility. Because we depend on technology to do even the simplest things—check the weather, get from point A to point B—the current system has a greater claim to its self-perpetuation regardless of its worth. Tracy mentioned Peak Oil, which dovetails with my thinking. We’re heading into a period of enormous upheaval—historic times. I have no doubt about that. The less tied up we are in the fantasy of constant “progress,” the easier it will be to accomodate ourselves to the demands of the time.
Posts Tagged ‘Cell Phones’
Both Judy and I have been unwilling to get cell phones, and it’s created some difficult situations. Last week I had a speaking gig in St. Charles, Illinois, which is around sixty miles west of Chicago. Sitting in the airport in San Francisco waiting to board, I watched people talking on their phones, playing with their phones, caressing their phones. Maybe I misunderstand, but it often seems to me that people are sitting and staring at them trying to think of somebody to call. That strikes me as peculiar.
At O’Hare, I took a shuttle out to get a rental car. The lady at the desk asked for a phone number, and I gave her my home phone, adding that it wasn’t a cell number, that I didn’t have one—something I always feel I need to tell people now when I’m transacting business.
She said, “We have you down for an economy car. Is that correct?”
She paused and then asked, genuinely puzzled, “Is that by choice?”
“Yeah. I’m not comfortable driving large cars.”
“No. I mean the cell phone.”
“Oh, yeah. I don’t like ‘em.”
She laughed as though it were the funniest thing she’d heard all day. She’d asked me the question in the same way that confirmed meat eaters ask why on earth you’d want to be a vegetarian.
After finishing at the desk, I was supposed to call the house that I was to stay in in St. Charles, to let them know I was on my way. But there was no pay phone. So I picked up the car and started driving, keeping my eyes peeled for a phone booth. Google maps had sent me on a bizarre course that I hadn’t bothered to check before leaving. It was like flying from San Francisco to Los Angeles by way of Denver. I was going down some long and slow business corridor, where I assumed it would be easy to find a pay phone, but I wasn’t having any luck at all. I stopped several times to ask, but nobody knew of any. Finally, I spotted one behind an aging gas station. I called the house, but the person on the other end couldn’t hear me at all. The phone’s speaker was broken. So I got back in the car and resumed driving. It was raining hard, growing dark, and I didn’t know the area at all. It was a little maddening. Finally, I stopped at a convenience store and asked the clerk if I could borrow her phone, which she reluctantly allowed, and I got through this time.
It was a bit of an inconvenience for everyone concerned—for me, for the store clerk, and for my host. But I still refuse to get a cell phone. I’ve already gotten tied up in too many of society’s entanglements. Getting a cell phone feels like going one step too far.
I’ve been somewhat hostile toward blogs and blogging. It has seemed faddish to me, I guess. I tend not to like made-up words, like blog and vegan. I’m doing this for a bunch of reasons. One of them is that I don’t hear many people saying what I want to hear said. So I have to say it myself. As I begin this, I don’t feel that I’ve found the right voice. I feel stiff. Although I’ve never been enthusiastic about the Internet, due to my work as a writer, I use it every day. I’m currently learning HTML and CSS, and I use Photoshop and Word. But I tend to believe that, overall, the Internet and computers have done more harm than good. More and more people are abandoning the real world and real community for a vicarious life of sitting in front of a monitor. How can that be good? I can’t imagine anyone writing poetry on a computer. One of my goals for the future is to be in a position where I have no computer and no telephone—just a regular old mailbox. I read an article in the New York Times about a writer in Maine, Carolyn Chute, who lives at the end of an unpaved road with no phone, no fax, and no computer. I admire her. Technological development is not the purpose of life. I don’t have a cell phone, and I never will. I think they’re intrusive, and nobody has ever convinced me that they aren’t a danger to your health. I wish they would go away.
End of rant.