A week of being wireless

Molly Grace

Never leave your cell phone near the sink while washing dishes. It will inevitably fall into the water, where its sad death will launch you into the middle of a college student’s nightmare.

Which is where I have been for the last week. Without the use of the one object which I now realize rules my life, I have been plagued by a constant feeling of disconnectedness.

“Call my cell phone.” How many times a day does that phrase leave your lips without a moment’s pause? Judging from the amount of times I used it over the last few days, before painfully remembering the fate of my own cell phone, I would have to admit that the number is staggering. One mindless accident has made me realize that I’m addicted. My reliance on my cell phone cannot be healthy.

Because cell phones have gained increasing amounts of responsibility in recent years, they have become seemingly indispensable to our generation. With the easy access to its numerous functions, the cell phone has conveniently replaced the need for previously-standard items. For example, I stopped wearing a watch. There’s no longer a reason to carry an address book when I have all of the numbers I would ever want (plus some) in my list of contacts. The three alarms I set on my phone each morning have made an alarm clock unnecessary as well; besides which, the cell phone alarms are immune to a power outage. I also decided to leave my room phone at home since it languished in the corner of my dorm room last year collecting dust. It now lives in a box under my bed at home … where it sits alongside the antiquated alarm clock.

Not only does my cell phone ensure that I am on time for life, it has become my main source of communication with the world. The wonderful appearance of family cell phone plans has given me, along with many of my peers, a constant link to my roots. The ability to hear a familiar voice at any moment of the day tethers me to my family, enabling me to stay involved and up-to-date with the news of each of my family member’s lives.

Since my life is just as busy as every other college student, I know how hard it is to squeeze in valuable phone time with home. I admit to being one of those students who pull out the cell phone after class, using the fifteen minutes of walking time between classes to catch up with my mom, dad, or one of my siblings. That walking time is also the perfect opportunity to call a friend to make lunch or dinner plans for later in the day. Since I am habitually five minutes behind schedule, it also comes in handy when I need to let the person I am meeting know that I’m not being rude … I’ll be there in a few minutes.

My favorite new feature of cell phones is the unlimited text messaging bonus I get between Verizon members. I probably send about fifty text messages (a little exaggeration, but not much) a day to my siblings and friends, using this function to say hi, check in, or set a meeting time.

I have found that it is especially convenient to use in the library, where talking on the cell phone is distracting to fellow studiers.

Since I’ve been rendered phone-less for the last week, I have been forced to walk to class in silence. This has given me ample time to contemplate my over-reliance on that tiny silver object. These frustrating musings have made me wonder whether or not this dependence is harmful or if it is an unavoidable evil necessitated by society … that I will admit has its useful – and fun – side effects.

Surprisingly, the silence has been a nice change. I have discovered that I can walk from West to Tolentine without my phone attached to my ear. Those fifteen minutes are actually the perfect opportunity to think about what is on my agenda for the rest of the day. If I were constantly on the phone, I probably would have also failed to appreciate the gorgeous fall weather around campus. If you get the chance, just look at the stunning color changes of the leaves. I know it’s sad, but I never fully noticed them until my cell phone’s death.

Of course, these realizations did not detract from the annoyance of having to rely on e-mail to communicate with my family in order to work out the details of sending me a new phone. Or the anxiety from having to rely on my own sense of time to wake up in the morning and avoid being late to class. Or the hassle of having to use AIM to let my friends know where I would be throughout the day.

As much as I enjoyed the silence and nature, I can’t wait until my new cell phone arrives in the mail later this week. I know that I’ll once again be on the phone in between classes. And I know that I will quickly reach my pre-cell-phone-death text message numbers. This week-long hiatus has made me realize that my reliability on cell phones, whether good or bad, has become an inevitable part of our culture that I think will always be a present force in the years to come.

But at least my new appreciation for silence, forced though it was, has taught me that I can survive cell phone withdrawal and live to tell about it.