I’m often confused, and usually amused when people say they don’t have and don’t want a mobile phone. My mom is one of these people, but I’m not confused by her reasoning. It seems a bit dismissive to say, but really, she doesn’t get out much. I don’t mean this in a she’s-out-of-touch-with-the-world way, she just isn’t really interested in traveling around. Home is her base of operations, she doesn’t have time to chat while she’s at work, and she’d rather visit her friends than talk on the phone. She’s no Luddite, either: she’s perfectly happy to bust out Skype to call her sisters, or chat with them on IM. She’s simply ambivalent on mobile phones.
No, I’m primarily referring to people who are too cool for mobile phones. They don’t have one and are proud of it. “I just couldn’t stand to be that reachable all the time,” they say. “Sometimes I don’t want people to be able to get a hold of me.” There is something charming about being old fashioned; insisting that the music from the 70s is way better than any of the crap they put out today and even having an honest-to-God turntable to play your vinyl on. One guy I work with says he likes the idea of actually planning things ahead with people, like when and where to meet up, and not being able to change it at the last minute.
(Photo by Ronrag, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 License)
What gets me is when people try to make up practical reasons for their (perfectly understandable) desire to be fashionably out of the mainstream. The fact is that having a mobile phone instead of a landline actually gives you more control over how reachable you are, not less. People don’t switch off their landlines. They could unplug them, but lets face it: that’s odd. People who call you will imagine horror-movie scenarios of you trapped in your house with a serial killer who has cut the power and telephone lines. No, to be “unreachable” with your landline, you have to leave your house. With my phone, no matter where I am, I push a button and I’m totally incommunicado on phone, text, and email. And I’m not afraid to do it, either. None of my friends need to worry about calling too late or too early, since my phone is off before I got to bed. It goes on silent when I’m enjoying a movie or spending time with my girlfriend. When I look at it later, my messages, texts and emails are patiently waiting for me. And if I get a call at an inopportune time, a quick dive into my pocket shuts it up. Contrast that with the telephone ringing in your house or office that you don’t want to answer: four rings until the answering machine gets it, loudly announcing the message to anyone within an earshot.
“Heydude, what’s your mobile number?”
“Don’t have one.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty much too cool for that sort of thing.”
“You’re probably right.”
How hard was that?