Life without a Cellphone

 I can live without a cell phone. I’ve done it many times. I cannot live without my computer and an internet connection.

In Canada, I had a love-hate relationship with my lovely Blackberry.  It brings such convenience; for work, for school, for my social life; yet it comes with some major downsides. My blackberry always kept me connected and available, but is this always good? In my opinion, no it is not. Being connected and available 24/7 can be stressful and annoying, to both me and to others.  And once you switch to the smart phone world – you can hear your phone vibrate from the next room – and you cannot help but be drawn to it; Who is that? What is that?; I cannot help but wonder as I grab my phone to check.

Our uber connected world distracts us from the simply pleasures of seeing someone face-to-face and actually being fully-engaged in what is going on, here, now, in front of you. Yes, I have taken my phone when I went on vacation to London and Ireland last October, but I barely used the international plan I purchased.  I was happy to turn off the phone, tuck it in my bag, enjoy the sights and sounds around me.

Last year in Thailand was my first foray into the disconnected world. I bought a cellphone, but then I lost it. I bought another one, then it got wet. Thailand is just not the place to have a cellphone – sure it is really affordable – but the climate and my activities there just did not permit me to keep a cellphone. So I gave it up, and went disconnected – and I could not of been happier. Now I walk down the street, ride the subway, sit in a cafe, and I actually pay attention to my life. My life is no longer passing me by as I stare down at my blackberry. I notice the people laughing, smiling, and talking. I notice when a taxi is about to hit me as I cross the street!

Yes, being disconnected has many disadvantages – you’re probably thinking of thousands, but really, the freedom from my blackberry has improved my life significantly. Now my blackberry is a bonafide alarm clock! I bet RIM would be happy about that eh? It took me approximately 3 weeks to not feel like I was missing the extension to my right hand; aka my blackberry! Now that I live in Buenos Aires, and more so in a Regional Sales role, being disconnected has more disadvantages, but by remaining connected via my computer – I can plan everything ahead of time and plan accordingly to make sure everything runs smoothly.

I can go without internet for a new days, but I always need to go back to it very soon after. I use my laptop for work as well as all my files for travel, so I spend a lot of time on the computer.  But I have to admit it is not just about the work.  The internet is also my lifeline to keep in touch with family and friends at home and around the world. With Email, Skype, and Online Banking I can do everything I need to remotely, access the information when needed, and unplug when I’m finished.

Technology can make our lives simpler. We are the ones who allow it to over-complicate or interfere with our lives.  It is an individual preference as to how much and which type of technology to use. I choose to be disconnected and live without a cellphone. Go 1 day without a cellphone and start paying attention to everything that goes on around you. You will smile more often. I promise you that.