Owned by the Phone
Until March of this year I did not have a cell phone, and I was happy.
I miss my phone-free days.
Everything changed when I was hired by a company that required me to be equipped with a mobile device — not just a cell phone, a BlackBerry. I have since been moved beyond the BlackBerry and into Droidland. I've gone from off the grid to leading edge.
I don't really want to be here.
Does this attitude make me a technophobe? A luddite? That's what the culture tells me.
But is it really the technology I don’t like, or is it the relentless connectedness that I can’t bear?
I actually quite like the Droid, with all its apps and neat little accessories. I like that it’s also a flashlight and that I can hold it up to the night sky and see what stars I am looking at. I love — as does my 8-year-old daughter — that the home page shows water drops when it rains (I mean, hell, it knows it’s raining), and then the screen gets swiped by a windshield wiper.
Don’t love: Being pinged and called or being expected to ping and call others at all times of the day or night just because I have the damn thing. It is, without a doubt, essential for my job, but not essential to my life.
Which brings me to John’s Phone, a just-launched cell phone that does nothing but allow you to make calls. Period. The device, developed by a Dutch company, is “the world’s simplest phone.” John’s Phone has no camera, no text facility, no apps, no nothing except the ability to “call, talk and hang up.” The phone even goes way retro when it comes to contacts: it includes a small notebook in which you can write down the names and numbers of your friends, family, and business associates with the pen provided, then slip it into the back of the phone.
One recent article was headlined, “John’s Phone Launched for Technophobes.” Were I a real technophobe, I would be salivating over this thing. But I’m not. If I have to carry around such a device, I want it to be cool and leading edge and have all the bells and whistles that make the latest round of phones so much fun. And I like having my kids envy me and my Android-based device. They started way ahead of me, but I caught up real fast and then passed them right by.
So the technology is not a problem. The problem is being constantly contactable. You don't have to answer, but you feel that you do because, well, you never know. I liked not knowing. I liked knowing that I did not know, or that there was anything to know. And that's not going to change, no matter what's in my pocket.
John’s Phone gets you a simple device, but it does not return simplicity to your life.