One of the ministries I have launched at the church since I started is a Sunday school class (that one day in the not-too-or-much-too-distant-future will be oh-so-much-more) for singles aged 18-34. Other than the singleness thing, it’s right up my alley. I still fall towards the middle of that age range. For now.
It’s a small class. We live in a rural area. But two of the class members live by their cell phones. Literally. One of the things that came up in our lesson last week was the things we consider essential to our lives. And this one guy could not fathom life apart from his cell phone. He doesn’t get signal where he lives at the moment, except when his phone is on a particular spot on a particular window sill. So he leaves it there. All the time. And just looks to see who calls/texts him and then calls them back on the very-lame landline.
Before moving from where my wife and I went to seminary to where we live now, I had a cell phone on my hip all the time. I disconnected my landline phone and lived quite well without it for several years. I never got into the PDA-crossover phones that do everything except type term papers for you, but I lived by my phone and did not want to be apart from it. I felt lost without it. I could not imagine driving anywhere for fear that something would happen and I would need to be able to call someone. (How did humanity survive for thousands of years without these contraptions, and how did the twentieth century endure cars, planes, traffic, accidents, and all the other nightmare scenarios without them I must now wonder.)
Not all that long ago, I joined one of those social-networking sites and quickly became obsessed with checking it and finding out how many friends I had and whether I was reconnecting with some long-lost friend from a prior existence that my life would be crashed to pieces without if I did not reconnect RIGHT THEN over the Internet.
So you can probably tell from my tone where this is heading. (If the title of the post didn’t tip you off to begin with.)
I am quite contentedly de-teching my life. My wife and I own one cell phone. It’s a pre-paid phone. We buy one of those cards that last for a year, have a plan that lets us roll-over unused portions to the next cycle, and spent a grand total of about $50 last year (not including the remainder of the card, which was supposed to rollover but we lost when I forgot to renew in time, don’t tell my inlaws) on a cell phone. I know people who spend $50 in a day on text messaging alone. Sometimes we even turn the phone on! (Assuming we’ve remembered to take it with us when we are going somewhere.) And, amazingly, life continues unscathed. The sun still rises. The world turns. There are clear days and rainy days. And when someone needs to get hold of me, they manage to find a way. AMAZING!
And I have decided to stop obsessing over the social networking thing. Sure, it’s nice to be able to know a little bit about people I know who are now scattered across creation. But I don’t keep in touch with any of them any better. And I certainly haven’t discovered any new friends in the social circles I engage in my off-line life!
Anyway, this is a rambling post with no real point, other than to say that I am trying to simplify and detach myself from technology’s stranglehold on my life. We’ll see how it goes.