A cellphone is an incredible tool. Unlike most, I still can look at one and marvel a little at how much convenience and technology is packed into the device. While I am still insistent on using a text-and-call phone instead of the complex type, my simple phone still contains a massive amount of smart built into it.
Unfortunately for those of us using phones, we sometimes forget that we are missing the big picture. Granted, when everyone owned a landline home phone, it seems like even then that most people acted as if we were slaves to the devices. How could we hear it ring and not answer? How could we not have an answering machine, call waiting, call forwarding, etc? For whatever reason, I never felt the compulsion to answer the phone simply because it rang. I know that I was in the minority on that front. However, I also know that it made me more at peace than other people that I knew.
I couldn’t stand the thought of having a phone in the bedroom where I try to relax the most. If a phone had to be in the room where I slept, I always had the ringer turned off and any lights rendered invisible to me. Any true emergency would result in a loud banging on the front door, if necessary. All other calls would be better served by 911 responders. Having a cellphone hasn’t changed my outlook. In fact, I always make it a point to leave my phone in another room. Having it in the bedroom creates an artificial importance to my presence.
A few years ago, an actual emergency ensued and my wife and I didn’t know it. I can’t even remember if my wife’s phone was in the room or not, to be honest. We didn’t even hear the loud bangs on the door due to the noise-suppression magic of a box fan to mask extraneous sounds in the night. When we got up the next morning, the emergency had been addressed and we had to respond accordingly – but we got a night’s rest, which turned out to be the biggest gift we could have received in order to survive the next few days.
Since then, all I have seen from having a phone present is an interruption to normal sleep, a continuation of the perceived necessity of being available, in “case we are needed.”
I correctly or incorrectly believe that having a cellphone in the bedroom creates a mental barrier to relaxation. The phone “could” ring at any moment, someone “might” need us, etc. As a minimalist and avoider of the “Just In Case” lifestyle, this really drives me crazy.
How did people manage to lead good, relaxing lives before telephones, before technology afforded an always-in-touch lifestyle? I am not idealizing the past, as there were a great many impediments that diminished a person’s quality of life compared to our modern time.
I am constantly catching myself disliking technology when in reality I am disliking the automatic response we seemed to have trained ourselves into. It will be a few more years until we have embedded cellphones that are always with us.
At some point, each of us has to ponder and decide if we are using technology and cellphones appropriately, or if we are misusing them at times to lend our lives that self-importance that being reachable by “someone” at all times brings with it.