by Eric Sudler, M.S.
Although Halloween is upon us, this isn’t an apocalyptic zombie flick filled with mayhem and gore. However, judging by people’s visceral reaction when I tell them that I’ve been without a cell phone for a month, you wouldn’t know the difference.
On September 20th of this year, the screen on my old, trusty Blackberry finally gave out after years of service. Although the phone was clearly on, the screen turned a shade of gray and remains that color even today. Now, I don’t know what irrational beliefs my phone was holding onto, but there was no disputing, challenging, or homework assignment that I could come up with to get it to come back on. After a long, unfruitful conversation with my cell phone provider, I was not able to get a replacement phone due to some technicality in my phone’s insurance plan.
Now, for those of you reading this that are saying, “Why don’t you just go buy another phone,” allow me to quickly educate you:
Graduate Doctoral Students are EXTREMELY poor.
This was going to be awful…
… or was it?
I initially conceptualized living without a cell phone to be impossible. Having no cell phone in 2011 was so close to insanity that some of my friends and colleagues thought that I was joking when I told them the news. Unfortunately, I was prone to the same kind of awfulizing in conjunction with my unrelenting hold onto the same rigid beliefs as everybody else. That is, until my REBT instincts kicked in.
Although I am a part of the cell phone generation, I do realize that there was a time when people didn’t have cell phones and they seemed to survive. Although it’d be annoying to be phoneless, I have experienced MUCH worse in my lifetime. Comparatively, this phone issue was next to nothing despite many people telling me that they couldn’t even imagine being separated from their phone for even a second. I definitely have enough frustration tolerance to endure the discomfort. I don’t remember anything in Biology 101 class saying that oxygen and cell phones are prerequisites to existing. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be possible to go sans cell phone while I saved up for a new one.
As I near the end of this experiment in frustration tolerance, I have to say that (like most challenges we encounter in life), this wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought it would be. I just made sure to check my voicemail regularly from my office phone.
Therefore, I challenge you… I dare you… I DOUBLE dare you… to leave the cell at home one day. Yeah, it will seem impossible and catastrophic, but you’ll survive. In today’s day and age where we are conditioned to believe that we need food, water, and the latest technology to survive, we miss out on the feeling of independence that comes from not being inseparably bound to a cell phone.
Obviously, this becomes much more of a challenge if your main source of income or daily living requires the usage of your cell phone. However, this does not mean this challenge cannot be taken up.
I do not mean to sound too preachy. I am still a part of the system I have described above. After having saved up for a month (in conjunction with a timely and generous credit from my cell phone provider), I have just ordered the latest iPhone from my wireless provider. However, after my recent experiment, I know I have the ability to function efficiently without it… which will ironically enable me to enjoy the phone even more.
Next Up: Magda Murawska, M.Ed. on Why It’s So Hard To Get Rid Of Those Sweatpants