Sunday, October 7, 2007

Pimp My Cellphone.

The last time I was without a cellphone was two years ago, no thanks to a dirty thief at the Insidious Fix party at Studio on Auckland's K Road. My cellphone was part of my day-to-day living. It was my primary tool in organising my social life. It was my aid in dating, in flirting. It was my watch, my alarm clock. My constant companion. Naturally when it was stolen, I felt violated - was the thief going through my phone, reading my messages? Were they going through my contact list? - and abandoned. After days of not being quite sure what to do with myself, a completely new thought occurred to me - what if I don't replace my phone? What if, for the first time in six years, I didn't have a cellphone? As an experiment, why don't I see how life goes on without a cellphone? As I was leaving NZ to go traveling through India for two months soon anyway, I decided what better time to see what life would be like without a cellphone. Lo and behold, life went on, after a bit of re-familiarising with that ancient tool, the landline. And life didn't just go on, it was an improvement. There is something liberating about not having a cellphone, not being contactable, not waking up the morning after a drunken night with messages in your outbox you really wish you hadn't sent and of course phone calls in your calls history you really really wish you hadn't made. As I said, life went on. I still saw my friends, I still dated, I wore a watch and I got an alarm clock. Upon my return from my travels through India, I fell in love and began a long-distance (Auckland to Wellington) relationship. I decided to get a cellphone. There is something exciting about the sending and receiving of text messages as a way of flirting. It made me ask the question - have text messages become the new love letters? I believe the answer to this is no, just like I believe the novel will never be replaced by online versions of the medium or records by mp3s. Cellphones have become such an integral part of our (organising our) lives that they are almost an extension of our physical beings - an appendage - but are they a necessity? No. I agree with Jim McGuigan in the reading Towards A Sociology of the Mobile Phone when he says, 'Use of the mobile phone is an immensely significant social and cultural phenomenon. However, market hype and utopian dreams greatly exaggerate its importance.' However, although I can function just as effectively without a cellphone, almost two years on from wanting one to communicate in yet another way with my boyfriend who was in another city, I now want one that allows me to check emails, update blogs, be online wherever, whenever. And when the novelty of that wears off, I will want new and more exciting features and functions from my cellphone. I won't need them, and my life would go on if I didn't have them, but while I live in a society which places importance on technology and keeping up with it, I will succumb to the conveniences and the novelties.


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