Is there such a thing as being overconnected?
If you had asked me 3 years ago if I would give up my cell phone I would have recoiled back in horror. How could I possibly sever the umbilical cord tether to my world? Now here is my confession – for the past couple of years I have lived without a mobile phone.
This came about by accident, after my phone went rogue and revolted against me (read: died), I had every intention of replacing it. I was getting moaned at for not being reachable, not being available for spontaneous rendezvous and friends worrying I would be stranded somewhere if they were late or plans changed. Frustrations I can understand, we’re so use to everything being instant and NOW and organising on a whim. Meeting new people was also awkward – ‘Is it okay if we exchange emails my phone is in cellular heaven.’
As much as I thought it would feel like I was always missing something. I didn’t. I was actually starting to enjoy not having one. I am already accessible via a landline, social networking profiles and my email – which is ever-present on my laptop. Cheery little emails brightened my day, they are my equivalent of the text message. If it’s very desperate you can even text my boyfriend to check I’m not dead or abducted! Yes I am still accessible for making plans and catching up, I’m just not accessible ALL the time. It feels like when it comes to mobile technology it’s almost like you never switch off, even though there is the OFF button people seldom make use of. Text messages always seem to scream ‘Urgent’ and I find it difficult enough having to contend with my bulging inbox which I’m forever writing self memos to sort out.
I enjoy company though at the same time I covet my own space every once in a while to just relax and have ‘me time’ or ‘us time’ with my boyfriend, but if I get an on-the-spot invitation then I often feel swayed into accepting whether I feel up to it or not. I hate disappointing people, that’s my problem. Being sans phone gives me my ‘me time’ – uninterrupted.
I also enjoyed the peace, being on the move and feeling free. Being able to be in a coffee shop and in deep conversation with no interruptions or cut off sentences because ‘I got to take this’. I think people have slowly accepted I can be a normally functioning person with an active social life without having a mobile phone, just go via another route to get hold of me because chances are if I’m right in the middle of something or out then I’m unavailable anyway.
New start. Fresh beginnings. Time differences. Long distance. I have debated getting myself on the iPhone intravenous when I return to Canada for these reasons. Now besides the obvious advantages of mobile internet it would also mean I could blog on the move and sort my correspondence on public transport which is otherwise ‘wasted time’. Maybe then I could handle friends clamoring for my attention in every-which-way-direction instead of making a mental note, leaving it later and feeling swamped and guilty for not returning their messages sooner.
I’m just not sure I’m ready to let go of a life where I chose when I’m connected and the freedoms that go with that.