Life Without a Cell Phone

by Tammy Strobel on September 5, 2011

The cool air drifted through the RV and my Dad walked out the front door to start the barbecue. As he walked down the stairs the door swung open and I could see Lake Tahoe in the distance.

In his hurry to start the barbecue he left the TV on and I was just about to turn it off, but a statistic caught my attention. The local news anchor noted, “30 percent of survey respondents said they use their cell phone to avoid interacting with the people around them.” She was talking about a Pew Center study focused on Americans and cell phone use. I was totally captivated by the story because I used to be “one of those” people.

I listened to the rest of the story and refocused my attention on prepping dinner with my Mom. While chopping carrots, we talked about the report and why Logan and I decided to ditch our cell phones a few months ago.

Logan noted over dinner that, “the best part of living without a cell phone is the decreased expense and being unplugged. It makes me a more pro-active communicator, instead of a reactive communicator. The bad thing? At a crowded event, it’s hard to find people and it’s more difficult to plan. There is less spontaneity and flexibility when I have to meet someone.”

For example, during the Oregon Brew Fest I was supposed to meet Logan at the corner of Stark and 3rd. But I was over on Oak Street waiting for him. I wasn’t paying attention and thought I was on the right street. It took us a while to find each other in the crowd and we were both frustrated by my lack of awareness.

Other than trying to find each other in crowded areas, we had to figure out what to do about emergency calls too. After a lot of thought we decided to get an emergency cell phone. It’s a pay as you go plan, through Cricket. Right now we occasionally use the phone for travel and haven’t had any emergencies.

For instance, during my recent trip to California Logan convinced me to take the phone. I wanted to leave it at home, but Logan thought it would be good to have “just in case.” The phone sat in my bag for two weeks because I was out of the service area! However, it wasn’t a problem. Internet access was easier to find than a pay phone and Skype’s call quality was good. There was even free wi-fi on the Amtrak bus I took to Lake Tahoe, at the campground, and on the beach too!

Interestingly, a few friends and family members said they were scared to call our Skype line and a few folks have gotten frustrated because I don’t text message anymore. It seems like more people prefer text messaging, instead of talking on the phone. And that makes me sad, because talking on the phone leads to deeper and more meaningful conversations.

We may or may not get cell phones again. Since we’re moving into the little house in November, we’re keeping our options open. More than likely we’ll go with a Mi-Fi plan and continue using Skype to make phone calls.

If you have an iPod Touch and want to use it as a phone, follow these steps:

1. Get a Skype phone number and purchase a Skype subscription. Make sure you look at their special offers before you buy anything.

2. Download the Skype app to your iPod Touch. The app is free.

3. Log in and start making calls! Remember you’ll need an Internet connection to do this.

More questions? Leave a comment.

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