“How to Survive Like It’s 1995″
My year without a mobile phone wasn’t part of some process to simplify my life. I wasn’t trying to abandon technology or get back to basics or go on some natural retreat.
It started a year ago when I tried to update my existing mobile phone, and to complete the process I needed a number that was part of the original packaging. I couldn’t find it, so I gave up and said, “Eh, oh well.”
It wasn’t a big loss. I didn’t have a smart phone, it was the kind that you had to triple-tap to text, and I barely used it. I work from home, and most of the places I go are within a one-mile radius of my house, so I could use the home phone if I needed to call.
(By the way, I’m not really a fan of the home phone since so many companies don’t respect the “do not call” list. Ours was part of a bundle package with the internet and cable, and we kept it in case the kids needed to use it in an emergency.)
So there I was without a working mobile, but feeling rather indifferent about it, I didn’t replace it right away.
I could survive like it was 1995. I did it once before. Maybe I would get lost and have to drive around looking for a store, and I wouldn’t be immediately available to reach. Since everyone else around me has a phone, I knew I could just borrow one if I really had to.
Living Without a Mobile Phone
I made a few social observations during this time when I didn’t carry a phone around. First of all, it’s really odd to stand in line and watch all fifteen people ahead of you look down at their phones at the same time.
Being the only person in the room without a phone almost feels like being the only sober person at the party, like you’re missing out on something, but at the same time maybe you’re the only person who is fully paying attention.
I noticed that some people put their phones away when having a face-to-face conversation better than others. I appreciate when people put their phones in their pocket or bag instead of placing it directly on the table in front of them. I realize I’m not as important as someone’s husband or kids, but it’s distracting to stop and wait every five minutes while the person you’re talking to responds to a text.
When people say they struggle with feeling too connected and not being able to unplug, here is an easy solution: You can turn off your phone. (There’s a button on the top.)
Also, re: loud ring tones, not a fan.
Try Google Voice
So people could still reach me, I set up a Google Voice account. I kept the same mobile number that I had for several years, and I moved it (ported it) to Google Voice.
Google Voice is like a main switchboard that joins your phone lines and your computer. People call you on one main number, and you control the settings. You can screen your calls and set “do not disturb” times. I used it to forward the calls from my mobile number so I could answer them on my home phone. I had texts and voice messages sent to my email, and I responded to texts from my computer. Most people didn’t notice that I no longer had a mobile phone since they could still call and text me at that number. The cost to set up a Google Voice account was $20, but after that it was free, and I wasn’t paying monthly charges for a mobile plan.
Eventually my husband insisted that I get a new phone for safety and convenience, so now I have a fancy, new phone, and he can text me instead of calling at me from across the house like people had to do in olden times.
I use my fancy, new phone to send texts to four people and take pictures of my food. I like it.