In May of 2011, I tried an experiment and decided to ditch my cell phone. I wanted to see what it felt like to live without a phone by my side constantly. So for the last six months I’ve been using Skype as my primary phone. I used wifi on both my computer and iPod Touch to make calls. In essence, my laptop acted as a landline home phone and my iPod touch acted like a pay-phone where I could pick up wifi at a coffee shop. I also bought a cheap pre-paid phone for emergency calls because you can’t call 911 reliably on Skype.
I wasn’t sure how this experiment would work or feel. I discovered that yes I can live without a cellphone. However, it was inconvenient.
For instance, it was harder for people to get in contact with me. Because of this, my email volume went up. In addition, I was constantly playing phone tag with friends and family members. Typically, I wasn’t online when they called or Skype wouldn’t ring at all. Over the last few months, not having a cell phone left me feeling isolated and frustrated. For example, I talk with my mom everyday and she had a difficult time hearing me on Skype. Typically, the call quality was poor and left me sounding like Darth Vader with a head cold.
I wasn’t the only one feeling frustrated. As my mother in-law recently noted, “I just thought you didn’t want to talk to me because voicemail would always pick-up. You never answered the phone.” I don’t want my family members to feel like I don’t want to talk to them because that isn’t the case. As a result, Logan and I had many long conversations about the best cell phone option for us and we opted to get an iPhone.
Over coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches my friend Bea asked me “Why did you buy an iPhone?”
I explained, “There are a couple of reasons. First off, I realize I don’t ‘need’ an iPhone, but I want one. I’m clear on the difference between need and want. With that being said, I’ve been using my iPod Touch as my main phone and even though it has limitations, I really enjoy using it. With the iPhone everything will be integrated into one device and I won’t be as limited in connecting with others. Also, I want to connect to the web when I’m traveling down to California this year. I’ll be making a lot of trips via train to see my folks. More importantly, I want my mom to be able to get in touch of me when she needs to talk. Especially since my Dad’s health isn’t that great.”
As I told Bea, making this purchase wasn’t an easy decision. It was a long deliberate process. During that process, Logan and I had a lot of conversations and made pro/con lists too. Initially, I was going to just start using the pre-paid cell phone we had, but Logan talked me into an iPhone.
As he noted during one of our talks, “You use your iPod so much. You use it for your email, calendar, social media, and as a camera too; it seems only natural to get a similar device with a built in phone. Carrying around two devices costs slightly less, but doesn’t really solve all the problems that you want to address. Besides part of our living simply philosophy is to purchase fewer, higher quality tools, and then use them until they wear out. Although the iPhone seems ostentatious I’ve done the math and the economics works out for how much you would use the tool.”
Parting Words . . .
Since, I’ve downsized my life I’ve learned to let go of the tools, stuff and relationships that no longer serve me and embrace the ones that do. And right now that tool is an iPhone.
However, I’ll be monitoring my behavior closely over the next few months. If I turn into an iPhone zombie, I’ll sell the phone and find another alternative.