Land Lines, (Cell) Phone-Free Living & Communication Saturation

by Kurt

It is fascinating to watch the faces of people when you try to tell them you wish to be rid of your mobile phone. I have gone so far as to procure a ‘land line’ as they are now so quaintly called – what was once a luxury item, then a household must and is now all but entirely antiquated as a communication technology. So far, I am sorry to report, the experiment is not all I had hoped for – though a few lessons have been learned.

My first step, actually, was letting go of voice mail. Being unable to disable the service entirely (after all, why would they create an option to get rid of such a handy-dandy feature?) I resorted to allowing my mail box to fill up to capacity and simply stopped checking it. This part was surprisingly rewarding. I can see who called and ring them in return or ignore their inquiry as I see fit. Meanwhile, my message states my email address clearly for anyone wishing to get more promptly in touch. It is also amusing to be told multiple times monthly that my voice mail box is full – as if I did not know.

Phase two has been something of a disappointment. I had forgotten what comes with a land line – no nifty number to give an indicator of who might be calling as well as a slew of solicitors and wrong numbers from the previous user of my particular sequence of digits (who in this case appears not to have been a native English speaker, leading to some fun attempts at understanding an unknown foreign language). In short: the land line is still, sadly, more annoying than the cell phone.

So why this elaborate attempt to unwind my attachment to my cell phone? It is not a self-regulating urge to detach myself from an essential device; quite the contrary, I simply do not like being as accessible as this gadget makes me. I also look around and see people relying too much on their portable devices – planning poorly and using them as a crutch for last-minute corrections. However, the main reason relates to saturation: I am on the grid and fully connected so much of the time that when I step away from the computer that is it – I want to be free of artificial indirect communication.

Part three, for those still curious, will likely involve a hybrid solution – perhaps I will jettison the failed land line after all and switch back to the cell, but not without a fight (or at least some modifications). One of the biggest expressions of disbelief I get regularly involves emergencies …. What if something happens to me? Or I am needed right away? Well, the first answer is easy: alright, alright, I will not actually trash my cell. The second part can be answered with a question: seriously, how many times has someone used a cellular phone to contact you (rather than, say, the police) in a real emergency?