I was one of the last newspaper reporters not to have a cellphone. I was trying to separate my personal and professional lives, and didn’t want to have to deal with someone returning my call while I was having dinner.
It was never a problem, because I was almost always reachable at my home or office. For the few times when I needed a cellphone, such as election nights, I could always borrow one. I called people on their cellphones all the time, but didn’t want to own one.
I’ve been retired for a year and a half now, and feel even less motivation to make this concession to modernity. From my perspective, why pay a monthly fee for a gadget that does the same thing as your landline, which you’re already paying a monthly fee for? I am amazed by all the people I see walking around (and crossing streets) with cellphones stuck in their ears. And now that smartphones allow access to email and the Internet, you sometimes see couples in restaurants looking at their screens instead of talking to each other. What’s the point?
Yesterday, I saw one good use for cellphones. We were in Gloucester, riding in a friend’s car near a busy street festival, and the driver let us out to pick up some sandwiches. I asked his wife how we were going to meet up with the car again, and she must have thought I was dumb. They communicated their locations by cellphones, of course, and I was impressed at how easily the connection was made.
Last December, I spent $200 on a tablet, and have enjoyed using it. It’s more convenient than a desktop for checking email, weather radar and the Internet, and I enjoy playing chess on it. But it doesn’t demand my attention at inconvenient times, and doesn’t require a monthly fee.
In March, Betsy bought a smartphone when she took a train trip to Indiana. I have not been able to understand her motivation, because she uses it mostly for email, which she could access with a tablet without a fee. Here’s her response: “I had been thinking about the usefulness of a cellphone for a while. What if I had a flat tire while driving? What if I ran into a traffic jam and was going to be late for an appointment? Having a cellphone makes it possible to communicate or call for help when you are out and about. That was why I finally got one for my trip:- to have a way to make connections out there in the big wide world.”
For me, not having a cell- or smart phone just makes life simpler.