Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Winning by a Landline!

A year ago last month Matt and I each ditched our cellphones in favor of a landline for our house.  I cannot believe it has already been a year!  It doesn't feel like it has been. I believe that now I can safely say that I never want to return to a life attached to a mobile communication device again.  Never.  I don't need it.  I don't want it.  I don't miss it.  And besides, it costs too darn much in terms of money, real social interaction, and the environment. 

Our landline easy costs less than half of what we were paying for cell service even though we had the most basic cellular plan.  I imagine if you have a data plan and text messaging and the whole nine yards you'd save even more than we do.

There have been a few interesting things I learned in the process.  For example, it has been interesting not having caller ID.  It is a real cultural phenomenon the extent of which I'd taken for granted.  For example, did you know that people in my age bracket do not identify themselves when they call.  I suppose they assume you have caller ID and when everyone has their own individual phone there is no question about who might be calling from that number so why bother saying "Hi Beth.  It's So-and-So."  My caller ID is just supposed to tell me that so that courtesy has fallen away from our phone etiquette apparently.  The first month or two was a real game for me as I had to try to figure out who was talking!   People old enough to recall a life pre-cellphone however, DO still identify themselves when they call.  I thought it was pretty interesting. 

Also, I've become aware of how fiercely people screen calls on their cell phones.  If they do not recognize the number they are highly suspicious and don't answer, instead waiting for a voicemail to "see who it was," and I guess, if they were worth talking to.  I don't know who they fear it might be, perhaps just fear of the unknown in general.  My whole childhood and adolescence we didn't have caller ID at home.  When the phone rang we just answered it.  I really don't see what was so wrong with that.  The worst that has happened in this whole year is I've had to tell a handful of telemarketers that I wasn't interested.  Certainly we could get caller ID on our home phone, but it costs extra and comes bundled with all sorts of other features we do not want or need.  So, when the phone rings....we just answer it!  What a concept, right?!?!

All it takes to get off a cellphone is a little planning ahead, something else I have learned in this year.

I have to get my friend's full street address and house color BEFORE taking off to their house because I won't be able to call and say "Okay, I'm on your block, come outside so I know which house is yours."

I have to pre-arrange a time and place to meet when we go somewhere public like the farmer's market rather than just calling and saying "Where are you?  I am at the corner of such-and-such."

I bring a book to read when I am going to waiting somewhere rather than just play games on my phone to fill the time.

But its not like that level of preparation is hard, and you know what?  I think it is better!  Trying to talk to someone, let alone find them, in a crowded place is often challenging.  Having the meeting place and time already picked makes things way easier.  Knowing the exact address of a new place you are going seems like common sense!   Reading develops my brain and is more stimulating than mindless cellphone games!  Being prepared as opposed to banking on my phone just makes more sense to me.

I have had too many plans fail because of cell phone issues to think they are the height of convenience.   Lack of signal, dead batteries, lost phones, 911 mode, people not hearing the ringer or forgetting to change the phone back from silent mode, etc.   They are too unreliable.  Those things never happens with my landline. 

When we told friends and family that we were ditching our cells the response was mostly one of shock.  Why would we DO such a thing?!  I can remember being asked "How will you talk to Matt!?"  "What about if you are walking home and someone assaults you?!"  "What if you run out of gas or get a flat tire somewhere?"  I can certainly appreciate their concern for my well-being and safety, but I feel people have a misguided belief that their cellphone will save them in every emergency.  Now, I know that cellphones HAVE saved the day before, but that is no guarantee.  In my opinion I am better off.  I am at least aware of a need to plan ahead and be prepared because I do not have this, potentially false, safety net.  Nearly every time I've had car troubles my cell phone hasn't had service in the area.  When I walk home from work I kept my phone in the bottom of my backpack and doubt I'd have gotten to it in time if someone pounced on me in assault.  And Matt and I talk in person!

However, I realize that for some the idea of ridding their life of a cell phone altogether might truly be an impossible obstacle.  In that case I might just suggest a normal, basic cell phone....none of this smartphone that runs every aspect of life business.  It will save resources, it will save money, and folks would be more likely to actually spend real time with real 3-D people rather than interacting with the world via the tiny computer in their pocket, but that is just my opinion.

As for Matt and I, this no cell phone thing is working out pretty swell for us.   Even better than I had hoped.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting. We have a landline and a mobile between us. We actually ditched the mobile for a while as we had no coverage here using our existing provider. What made me laugh was all the appointments you make and they say " can we have your mobile", and I would say "I don't have a mobile, just ring me on the landline". They were almost always shocked.(I am a stay at home mum, so more often than not I will be home, the landline is a better option for me.):)

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  2. When I first read this, I thought,"Oh, no, they go to isolated places." No cell reception would be a problem.

    People may be afraid of bill collectors, guys calling for a date, being called in for an extra shift to fill in for someone else. I never had caller id until my answering machine broke.

    I only got a cell when I decided to substitute. Finances were tight, but my first call paid for three months cell since I got five days of subbing.

    My cell is basic. I know if I ever get texting or anything else, I will love it. However, since 1991, the 20 years I have had a computer, I have played games on three occassions, ONLY. The last time, my hand would not move for three days. It was just a claw, so I decided that the mouse could paralyze me. (pre-laptop)

    Sometimes on a lonely, dangerous road I take a look and see! I have no signal. There goes my feeling of security.

    However, even walking a block to get help in town would greatly tax me, so for me the cell stays. I even took it to the hospital and could talk and be reached without having to handle the far-away hospital phone. I put a clip on the little lariat on the phone and hooked it to my pillow.

    Before I had a cell and everyone else did, I guided people to my home, people who had a cell and could not find me.

    Last year, because of extreme financial distress, I decided to ditch the landline. It turns out that I would still have to pay for a line for my computer.

    The landline is only $17.50 and I pay for call forwarding and have my landline forwarded to my cell phone all the time. Both my landline phones broke or need new batteries, not sure.

    When I have to wait somewhere, I use that time to make a doctor's appt, argue with ATT about items on my bill....make impersonal calls that I have on my list, and just stay busy rather than having a game to play. I rarely carry a book in the car, because I don't wait anywhere very long. Yes, I will carry a book to a doctor appointment.

    Your points are very clear and make sense, but there are advantages, too, for some people to have a cell phone. And, I don't mean those who are addicted to the games and texting.

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  3. My husband and I both have cells with media and texting, but luckily we get a substantial discount through my dad's employer (on a family plan). I admit, I love to text & play on the internet on my phone, but the biggest perks for me are the GPS and being able to locate help if needed (i.e. two separate tows in out-of-the-way locations: one in 100 degree weather & one in 20 degree weather). I could certainly downgrade plans, but for now the pros outweigh the cons.

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!