At the Helm:Slaves to the cell phone?

Written by Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer November 04, 2011 09:43 pm

 

The Graves family resisted getting cell phones for years until finally succumbing. I’m still wondering if we made the right choice.

Before buying our first cell phone, we discussed the alternatives: busting out the family’s old walkie-talkies; getting a really long extension phone cord to carry with us; or, carrying a bullhorn. Anything to avoid The Cell. 

We had a landline phone at home, and phones at our workplaces. With a little planning, there should be no need for those “can-you-pick-up-X-from-the-store-while-you-are-out” calls.

However, after hearing comments like “What?! You don’t have a cell phone?” and “Dude, stop living in the Dark Ages,” we took the plunge.

We started our cell phone experience slowly, purchasing one cell phone for my wife and me to share. (My daughter, now eight, was five at the time, and she won’t get a cell phone until she’s married.) 

Our first phone was a simple device intended for emergency situations, such as the car breaking down between Brookings and Gold Beach, or while traveling the forest service roads in search of a Christmas tree to cut.

Soon, however, I discovered how convenient a cell phone can be when I’m away from home or work and need to call  to say I’ll be late (that, and my friends got tired of me borrowing their cell phones all the time.)

Also, as a member of the Pilot news crew, it was becoming apparent that I should carry a cell phone in case someone at the paper needed to contact me, or I had to contact the newsroom. 

Sure enough, in March of this year, only a few months after getting my own cell phone, a tsunami struck the Port of Brookings Harbor. I spent a good deal of time that day using the phone to contact reporters in the field and file my own reports, which were posted on the Pilot’s website and in email news alerts.

I don’t think I’ve used my cell phone as much since then. That may sound foreign to people who use their phones dozens of times each day to do everything in their lives ­– except go the bathroom. (And there’s probably a phone application for that!)

While the Graves family members may appear to eschew cell phones, we certainly aren’t Luddites. We’re pretty tech savvy, building websites, managing blogs, downloading music and videos, and using instant chat and social networking sites.  

However, when it comes to cell phones, simpler is better. That’s because we use them simply for – gasp! – talking.

Our phones cost less than $30 and we buy minutes ahead of time instead of signing our lives, and that of our first born child, away on a nefarious phone service contract. Our phones don’t send emails, text messages, surf the Internet, or play video games,  music or movies. 

I spend enough time doing all those things on the computers at work and home. I don’t need to carry a mini-computer with me everywhere I go.

Truth be told, I still don’t like the idea of being reachable all the time. My wife feels the same way.

The phone, landline or cell, is there for our convenience, not others’.

Since having the cell phone I’ve learned of a special, little-known feature: the on/off switch.

“You just can’t turn it off!” Some of you are thinking.

Yes, I can. And I do.

The Graves family may no longer be living in the Dark Ages, but we refuse to be slaves to technology.