Friday, November 16, 2012

I don't have a cell phone. Here's why.

Saved by the Bell: Zack Morris was more technologically advanced than I am

It's not what you're thinking.

I'm not one of "those people" -- some pretentious, snobby contrarian or weird anti-technology Luddite. Hey, I love technology. I have two laptops, a really nice flat-screen TV (with a BluRay player!), an 80GB iPod which I rely on daily, a Facebook account, at least three Twitter accounts, and a blog which I update more than is probably healthy. Heck, I've been posting stuff to the Internet before Google, Facebook, or Ebay even existed. (Seriously, check out that last link. It takes you to a bit of fan fiction I wrote almost 20 years ago. You can even see my old AOL address! And there's a much longer, more elaborate version here.)

In short, I'm not this guy:

In that sketch from the classic Mr. Show with Bob and David, David Cross' character (who shows up at the 1:10 mark) is a pompous, judgmental twerp who disdains all modern technology and carries a mini-Victrola around with him. That's not me.

But, no, I don't own a cell phone. Yes, I know how odd that is in 2012. But I have my reasons, and here they are.
  1. As I've mentioned before, I'm sort of a cheapskate. This has more to do with neurosis and personal insecurity than it does with money. I'm not rich by any means, but I could afford a cell phone. Still, the thought of one more monthly expense makes me queasy. Especially since.... 
  2. I hate talking on the phone. It's just an activity I do not and have never enjoyed. If you've spoken to me on the phone in the last five years, in fact, there's a good chance that I was playing Tetris the whole time and only partially listening to you. I apologize. But I just can't rationalize paying extra money to do something I hate. That's the way I am with driving, and I resent every last penny I have to spend on my car, which is why a recent $209 auto repair bill sent me into a mini-meltdown on Facebook last weekend. (Sorry, sis. Didn't mean to scare you.) But the real reason I don't own a cell phone is...
  3. I like the idea of being unavailable and unreachable sometimes. I realize that, as a depressed person, I've probably spent too much time isolating myself from the world. But you should know that, very often, I find great comfort and solace in solitude. I cherish my alone time. It's part of the reason why it's a blessing that I am not married and do not have children. As much as I sometimes long for human contact, I just can't tolerate being around people 24 hours a day. I don't even understand how people cope with having roommates, let alone family members, sharing their domiciles. That's why the holidays can be such a challenge for me. Look, I love my family. I just don't want to hang out with them non-stop for days on end. Not having a cell phone gives me the illusion that I can somehow "escape" the world or sidestep reality for a while. (I know that cell phones can be turned off or silenced, of course. But I'd still know it was there.) In short, I really identify with this song that British comedy legend Peter Cook performed in the 1967 movie Bedazzled.

"But, Joe," you might be thinking, "what if you get stranded or lost someplace and can't get to a phone?"

Believe me, it's happened. And it sucks. But I've obviously survived thus far. In some version of the future, I probably will break down and get a cell phone, likely one of those no-frills, pre-paid ones referred to slangily as "burners."

But for now, don't force the issue on me. Please. Thanks. In the meantime, check out this Beatles song. It was the first of George Harrison's compositions to actually wind up on one of the group's LPs, in this case their sophomore effort, With the Beatles.

P.S. While I'm in the mood for making confessions, here is a by-no-means complete list of pop culture phenomena with which I've failed (or not even tried) to keep up. Go easy on me, I beg you.
  • Harry Potter
  • The Sopranos
  • The Wire
  • Mad Men
  • Oz
  • Breaking Bad
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Walking Dead
  • Star Trek (all versions)
  • Mad Men
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The Hunger Games
  • Superhero comics since the 1980s
  • Japanese animation
  • Radiohead
I know, I know. I'm going to Pop Culture Hell when I die.

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