I don’t own a cell phone.
To clarify: this is not a confession, it’s a declaration. It’s not because I’m cheap (I am), or that I think the government might be listening in (they probably are), or that I have a problem with cell phones (OK, maybe just a few). It goes much deeper than that.
When people find out I haven’t owned a cell phone for over three years, the responses range from, “That’s weird” to, “How do you survive?” to, “What’s the point of living without a cell phone?”
But the average response is usually a great big startled, “WHY?!” I have my reasons. Eight of them..
1. All My Millions, Gone
When I inspected my bank records and added up all the phone purchases, activation fees, monthly plans, long distance rates, roaming charges, upgrades, usage overages, hidden fees, and accessories, my total was almost $6,000 in less than four years. My wife and I once traveled for five months in Central America for less. As we try to create a margin of time and money so we can engage in missions and ministry, some things have to give.
2. I’d Like to Have (Two-Eyed) Children Someday
Little known fact: cell phones radiate your baby-making parts. According to Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Body, the quality and quantity of your potential offspring diminishes by 10-40 per cent. Not that there’s anything wrong with three-armed kids. It’s just harder to find soccer jerseys that fit, and they definitely won’t get to play baby Jesus in next year’s Christmas production. As a former cell phone owner, I’m no longer a fan of carrying a nethers-zapping pocket robot. Mark my words, there will soon be a market for radiation-blocking lead cases.
3. My Eyes, Neck, and Wrists Can’t Handle It
No, I’m not popping and locking. Those are facial ticks, wrist adjustments, and neck re-alignments. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, folks, but we’re raising a generation of cross-eyed, carpal-tunneled, craned-neck kids. My great-grandpa could lift the back end of a car. Seriously.
4. My Wife Would Bury Me in the Garden
Have you seen that new YouTube video that’s oddly named “I Forgot My Phone?” I can’t do that to my poor wife. It drives her crazy when she’s chatting with a friend and they say, “I’m listening” while they check their Twitter feed. She usually walks out of the room to see if they even notice. It’s not that I mind, personally — when the whole room goes silent as everyone checks their Facebook messages, it gives me the opportunity to nab some extra guacamole.
5. I Like Playing Hard-to-Get
They say that “scarcity breeds desire,” but I’m teetering somewhere between After Earth and Oblivion. Not having a phone allows me to really focus on my priority projects: writing my book and making our new documentary versus getting into discussions about how Miley has “blurred all the lines.”
6. I Prefer Human Interaction
I can’t think of how many relationships I’ve had to real-life repair after a taken-out-of-context digital communique. And as much as I’d love to livecast my life via filtered Instagram photos (my wife and I live in a trailer in a forest, after all), we much prefer late-night conversation and prayer with real friends around a real campfire. Though I’m sure there’s an app for that.
7. I Was Hurting People
If you’ve done any progressive reading this year, you’ve probably heard about blood phones. Cell phones contain coltan and other conflict minerals, and when your wife is African-born, it strikes close to home. I’ve learned that many of my western purchases are hurting people overseas — cell phones included — and I’ve had to choose between my comfort and what I say I believe.
8. I Don’t Actually Need One Right Now
People own cars and cell phones and drink coffee because “that’s what humans do,” right? The way I see it, if previous generations were able to beat the Nazis and build skyscrapers and put a man on the moon —all without the use of an iPhone — I can likely survive.
Though I’d probably love the “Crazy Nazi Birds” app.
Photo by (Flickr CC) Roey Ahram