It’s been a year. Maybe over a year that I got rid of my cell phone. It might be hard to believe in this world of technology and instant gratification but I did it. There were long and hard deliberations before I called to cancel the mobile plan. Thoughts about how my friends, family members, and acquaintances were going to manage not being able to get a hold of me rambled through my mind. But then I remembered, no wait I do have a residential phone line and it’s been the same number for six or seven years and the same address for almost eight years. It’s not gonna make that much of difference, right? So I called up the service provider cancelled the service. It wasn’t easy. They said everything about why I should keep it including: in case of emergencies; and giving me a better rate. I prevailed and said, Hey I’m sorry it’s not you, it’s me; and ended that relationship.
It was freeing not to be focused on continuously checking for texts like everyone else. It’s a bit unnerving how many people constantly have their heads bent down scrolling-scrolling, texting-texting. Everyone’s looking for their life mates and too busy with their bent heads to even notice their one and only seated next to them on the bus. And have you tried having a conversation with someone who has a cell in their hands or always at the ready?
Having to turn it off or put the cell on vibrate was a constant reminder how easily distracted I get if it was on because let’s be honest, my neck was starting to get bent too. The money saved every month was suppose to happen but instead got spent going to more movies. It is a weakness. On Tuesdays, you’ll know where to find me.
There was more family time with my daughters. Our relationship blossomed to the point where teasing or embarrassing me was too easy because they were getting to know more of my habits, both good and bad, and my likes and dislikes. The extra time we had together bonded us in a time of great hormonal and human changes. Discussions are lively, rambunctious, and sprinkled with new insights I never dreamed of having with my off-spring.
I began to spend more time by myself and part of it was I wasn’t getting any more texts from anyone to hang out. Without this happening though I wouldn’t have realized how comfortable I am in solitude and silence. Although as a writer I was already spending lots of time with my writing craft but it pretty much solidified my writing solitude even more so. I embraced this part of the experiment as it was becoming. Going for long walks, hikes, and slow bike rides has become a passion. Meeting lots of people on the trails and have interesting conversations that are caught in the moment then gone never to be continued are magical. It makes me believe more in serendipity moments instead of planned meetings. It’s always a nice surprise to meet by chance.
Reading texts from my peeps on a daily basis were missed though. There was a major loss of communication. Relying on sending emails to keep in touch were becoming a norm. Spending more time on social network sites in order to stay connected was increasing to more than an hour at a time. My use of technology was spiraling out of control once again. It’s so easy to get sucked in and it’s a daily struggled at times so I have to force myself to pull in the reigns and limit the scrolling, liking, and commenting to ten, fifteen, twenty minutes at a time.
At home the land line is used to reach out but not as frequently as I thought. A big realization began to unravel. It wasn’t only me who uses technology to connect. Everyone does. Whether it’s through mobile devices or computers, it’s becoming a major part of our human needs. It’s gone way past our human wants. There’s advantages to this and they are obvious like skyping with relatives and friends across great oceans or using it for web conferences with doctors in the closest city. One the great advantages is using this technology to offer on-the-scene reporting/twittering; or gathering together for a round dance at a local mall. There’s lots of good things happening because of technology like me writing on this blog and connecting with fellow bloggers and readers – why hello there. (Did I ever tell you that you put the jam in my blueberries?)
There’s also a few disadvantages that I have noticed. There’s lots of missed opportunities because there’s so many people relying on texting only or inboxing that people who don’t use these modes of communication are left out. Where my elders at? There’s not as many public phone booths which can leave you desperate to contact someone if you’re running late. On the other hand just leave early. Problem solved. If you don’t have a cell you can’t access certain things like that instant gratification of learning the exact time a bus is coming. In the beginning I caught myself thinking, If only I knew the exact time the bus was coming, I wouldn’t be here waiting for an extra three, four, five minutes. I laughed at how ridiculous my thoughts were.
As I write this, I know that there needs to be changes in my own ways of communication like picking up that phone to call and chat. The only people I talk to frequently have been my brothers, a few relatives, and a couple of friends. See technology has given me an excuse as well to be uncommunicative and to fall into silence. At times though I revel in solitude and silence. It makes for a greater chance for outdoor activities and, reading and writing more. As long as I seize each and every opportunity.
Balance needs to be part of my focus so that I don’t lose focus on what matters most. When I say that, it makes me question even more what matters most. And to me real life human contact is always best whether if its with other humans or with natural world. It makes me long for a time when things were much simpler, and in a way, much easier.
Over this past year of not having a cell and having this internal battle of use of technology, I’ve continuously thought about Anishnaabe prophecy about humans being at a cross roads where we will have the choice between materialism or spirituality. (Search: Anishnaabe 7 Fires Prophecy). This prophecy has been at the root of so many of my choices in life and how I raise my children. What I’ve found is that balance is the key and spiritual practices need to be the anchor.
And I need to be open, still, and listening with more than my with ears. If I have a cell I don’t think I could manage doing something so simple.
If you need to reach me, I will be out there on the land standing in your techo dust as you leave me behind to stay in the current trends. And I’m okay with that.