On the level folks, I do use a cellphone – a smart phone even.  But I’m not sure I like it.  I most certainly enjoy the GPS that comes with it, as finding those schools tucked away in suburban hell can be very tricky, even at the best of times.  But, past the land navigation benefits,  I’m not too sure.

Owning a mobile phone is not helping me in my struggle to continue to read widely and with depth in the topics I am interested in.  The false novelty of the facebook feed is much to easy an out, versus intellectually girding oneself for tackling that next book on feminist theory or the ravages of American imperialism.  I read a great deal in my 20’s and have the bookshelves to prove it, but now reading seems on a path that is further and harder away to reach.  I remember my voracious reading days and wonder where that zeal went, and how to restoke that desire for knowledge and perspective of the world.

Facebook is open in the other tab, even as I write this post, offering its usual semi-catered beguilement for my consumption.  It is truly the ‘ghost feast’ we read about in fairy tales – where you can eat and eat and eat and yet slowly starve to death because the scrumptious food being consumed is a insubstantial, desultory facade.

Much of what Dr.Reed says resonates with me, and I thought I’d share a part of his essay here.

 

“The decisive reason, however, for me to refuse a cellphone is the opposite of everyone else’s reason for having one: I do not want the omnipresent ability to communicate with anyone who is absent. Cellphones put their users constantly on call, constantly available, and as much as that can be liberating or convenient, it can also be an overwhelming burden. The burden comes in the form of feeling an obligation to individuals and events that are physically elsewhere. Anyone who has checked their phone during a face-to-face conversation understands the temptation. And anyone who has been talking to someone who has checked their phone understands what is wrong with it.

Communicating with someone who is not physically present is alienating, forcing the mind to separate from the body. We see this, for example, in the well-known and ubiquitous dangers of texting while driving, but also in more mundane experiences: friends or lovers ignoring each other’s presence in favour of their Facebook feeds; people broadcasting their entertainment, their meals, and their passing thoughts to all who will bear witness; parents capturing their daughter’s ballet performance on their phones rather than watching it live; people walking down the street talking animatedly to themselves who turn out to be apparently healthy people using their Bluetooth.

The cellphone intrudes into the public and private realms, preventing holistic engagement with what is around us. Smartphones only perfect their predecessors’ ability to intrude.

The disembodying and intrusive effects of cellphones have significant implications for our relationships to the self and to others. Truly knowing and understanding others requires patience, risk, empathy, and affection, all of which are inhibited by cell phones. Cellphones also inhibit solitude, self-reflection, and rumination (formerly known as ‘waiting’ and ‘boredom’), which I think are essential for living a good life.”