Friday, June 22, 2007

Call me inaccessible

Once again I have been challenged to defend my cellphone-free status, and I can't do it. It's easy to come up with lame excuses: cellphones are expensive, there's no tower out in the sticks where we live, I can't read the small print on that little screen, I like being inaccessible, and so on.

I'm not a Luddite: I have nothing against technology. Some of my best friends are technology! My problem with cell phones is much more elemental: I don't like carrying things. I will happily carry a briefcase or a camera bag if I really need to, but beyond that, I'd rather not. I can't even carry a purse. Trust me, I've tried: it makes me crazy. I can't carry a glasses case. I don't like carrying an umbrella. I'm not even comfortable wearing jewelry; in fact, I once went ten years without wearing a watch, until I started teaching on a campus with no clocks in the classrooms.

I realize that my dislike for having stuff attached to my person borders on the pathological, but I've learned to live with it and so have my friends, except when the topic is cellphones. "They're so small and convenient," they tell me, "and so helpful in emergencies."

And they're right. Occasionally when I'm traveling I'll carry my husband's cellphone for a day or two, but I don't enjoy it. Carrying a cellphone makes me feel as if I'm dragging behind me an unruly appendage that's constantly demanding attention: it wants to be answered, it wants to be charged, it wants to to tell me about missed calls. I don't want to know about missed calls. If it's important, they'll call back, and if it's not important, who cares?

Raising these objections out loud in public, however, is a losing proposition. For every objection, the cellphone aficionado provides enough excellent answers to persuade any rational person of the benefits of carrying a cellphone. So I think I'll stick with the irrational: "I can't carry a cellphone," I'll say, "but when they make a cellphone that can carry me, we'll talk."

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