It is the year 2013, almost 150 years since the telephone was first patented by Alexander Graham Bell [a Canadian!]. I am 22 years old, which means that I can legally drink in the United States of America, as well as vote on important political decisions.
I do not own a cell phone.
Yes, I own a laptop, which is sitting on my lap in contradiction to the warnings that it is not conducive to the general health of “my guys,” so I’m not a complete and total Luddite. What I do not own is a cellular telephone, a device that I carry around with me everywhere and which would keep me constantly connected at all times. The following image is a pretty great reason for this [lots of scrolling up ahead]:
Yes, it is true that I don’t think I know enough people in Toronto to warrant owning a cell phone, but that’s a secondary point to the fact that I don’t want that distraction.
A few weeks ago I went to an Irish pub with three of my cousins to grab a few drinks. The An Sibin Pub was, and is, a remarkable establishment. Not only was it a comfortable place to sit with intimate lighting, but that night also featured live music performed by a really enthusiastic band. In other words, it held all the ingredients for some quality family time.
On at least three separate times the four of us sat there in the half-dark, an awkward silence stealing over the table. Whereas I could do naught but sip at my cider, my cousins had their phones to turn to. One checked up on Facebook, another Twitter, and yet another Instagram. Instead of being forced to interact or converse each was able to keep to themselves, staying connected with people who weren’t even in the room.
That’s not what I want.
Everywhere I am, whether sitting on the subway or waiting in line at the bank, everyone is staring down at these little screens. It’s like there’s this inability to simply do nothing but wait. As someone who has not owned a phone since 2009 I have used these spaces of time to take a step back and observe. I listen in on the conversations of the people around me and observe them as they go about their day; I try to be as in tune to my surroundings as possible.
I understand the huge downsides to not having that ability to communicate instantly [I’ve found myself heading to the Apple store in the Eaton Centre to check my Facebook], but at this point in my life I feel that they’re outweighed by all of the freedom that I feel I have.
Yes, I dearly miss this machine I am typing on whenever I am away from it, the way I can reach out to hundreds [okay, let’s be real, with this blog maybe dozens] with my writing as well as find out what my friends scattered across the globe are doing. But as Verona’s resident love expert once said, “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” and my absence from the internet makes my reconnection with it all the sweeter.
Regardless of whether or not Albert Einstein actually said the abovequote [signs point to “no”], it’s a pretty pertinent point. Human interaction has, in a way, been diminished by technology. I would love to live in a day and age where I could agree to meet up with people instead of going through the motions of adding them on Facebook and then staring at the screen intently silently [sometimes loudly] begging for them to start chatting with me. I would rather talk than type.
All that being said, I will eventually have to acquire a cell phone, whether due to work [I find out whether I’m being hired full-time today] or a growing social circle [still working on this one]. When I do, I have already decided to grab a really simple phone, and a correspondingly uncomplicated plan: no data, just talk and text.
In a half-decent blog post on one of my really crappy old blogs I wrote about this same topic, and made the comment, “I’m struck by the irony of the telephone, a device meant to bridge a gap between two people, to facilitate communication, instead being used as a gadget to keep oneself from having to interact with anyone.” I think phones are well and good, but not when they keep you from, well, the world.
On a final note I also want a car with manual roll-up windows, because I want to be able to open and close them without the key in the ignition.