Right after I graduated from fashion school, I was applying for jobs and doing the occasional freelance gig. One gig I applied for, I emailed them some examples of my work and they asked me for my phone number. I sent it to them but the only contact info I had for them was the email address. I had only a land line at that point, and I lost the job just because they didn’t want to leave a message on my voicemail.
Upon learning this, I promptly signed up for a cell phone plan – a three year contract – determined to never lose a job because I couldn’t be contacted. I didn’t shop around, though it probably doesn’t matter – Canadian telcos are notoriously expensive and nobody seems to love their provider. I ended up never using the phone to much effect, and basically was counting the days until my contract expired by the end of the first year.
Looking back, the fact that this gig didn’t give out their phone number should have been a red flag in the first place – it seems so silly that I would make such a long commitment on such a small event but as a recent grad I guess I was feeling the stress of how I would make a living and felt I would try anything if it would help.
Of course I did eventually enjoy using the mobile phone – especially when I travelled – texting friends, you know, the usual. Now that I evaluate every business expense more carefully to see if I get value from it, I didn’t feel that the cell phone was really pulling its worth relative to the cost. So a couple months ago, when the contract expired, I cancelled the service and went immobile.
Going without mobility can seem a little bit rebellious – and to be honest when I did it I wasn’t sure if I could go back to just having a landline. Now that I have done it, I am so pleased with how it works out. I can count the times I have missed having a cell phone over the past three months on my thumbs. How to go immobile and why? Here are some advantages –
- It is cheaper. Especially if you, like me, have a lot of long-distance clients, friends and family, long distance plans for home phones are still much more reasonable than cell phone plans, at least in Canada.
- It helps to keep your work and your life more clearly separated. For someone like me who lives and breathes work, I know the ability to check my email from anywhere and overtweet would be a terrible temptation. This way, when I am in the studio, I am working, and when I am not, I am not.
- It keeps you in the moment. In meetings and social situations it allows you to completely focus on the people you are with. This is something which won’t always be noticed but when it is it is always appreciated. You will also be more aware of your surroundings – making you a safer pedestrian, a better driver, and allowing you to experience your life more fully.
Maybe I’ve almost convinced you – the truth is that immobility is sometimes an inconvenience. Some tips I would like to share from the cell-less experience –
- It takes confidence. The cell is the new social security blanket – if you’re not sure what to say or you don’t know anyone, you can look busy by pressing buttons on your phone. Without it, you can carry around a paperback or a notebook, or maybe a camera – or for the gutsiest, train yourself to be comfortable being seen doing nothing, all alone. I think it makes you more observant and encourages you to be more outgoing.
- You have to follow through on your plans. If you’re going to meet someone, you should be there, on time, because you can’t make any calls saying “stuck in traffic” or, “have to cancel” within a few hours of the appointment. You will occasionally find yourself unable to find people or places – you have to search for yourself to find the right door. I guess it encourages you to be more resourceful and to give yourself more time. I still occasionally come home to amusing voicemails after meetings from people telling me they will be a few minutes late.
- Be committed to it. Don’t be one of those people always asking to borrow someone’s phone. Its on a par with those so-called non-smokers who always ask for cigarettes. Its okay every once in a while but it should only be for a good reason. I think it encourages you to really evaluate what calls are necessary – and if we are to be really honest, most of them are not.
Mobiles – are you a user, an addict, a lover or a hater? Would you ever go without, why or why not?