How did we live without cell phones?

On the rare occasion I leave my cell phone at home (usually on its charger), I feel uneasy, disconnected, isolated. What if my mom, spouse, son, sibling, good friend or employer has an emergency and can’t reach me? What if my car breaks down and I need help? What if?

It’s hard to remember a time when most of us weren’t accessible anywhere, any time, via cell phone. The days when pay phones were as ubiquitous as gas stations and convenience stores, and no one was reachable anytime, anywhere, unless they stayed at home next to their landline.

The arrival of cell phones meant freedom to go anywhere, any time,  knowing if we’re really needed and want to be found, we can be. They ushered out the age of being truly and unavoidably, inaccessible. Thanks to my cell phone I don’t need to stay at home if there’s a potential emergency brewing that might require my presence. At the same time, I can no longer disappear/escape from needy family members and bosses unless I can sell one of the three ‘disconnected’ scenarios:

  • “Oh gosh, my battery died,” or,
  • “Darn, I accidentally forgot my cell at home,” or (my favorite),
  • “Shoot, I must have left my phone on vibrate.”

I can no longer live in comfort without my electronic security blanket.  I like being accessible. Sure, it’s fun to connect to the Internet, use maps, or post to Facebook on my cell, but being reachable is the reason I am willing to pay for the privilege of connection. It’s also why I’m willing to endure the constant frustrations that come with cellular service and tiny electronic instruments that seem to fail just after the end of their warranties.

I don’t see my cell phone as the enemy of freedom or real connections. For me it’s the ultimate facilitator.

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