Smile Politely

Simplifying Life: Cell Phone-Free Living


A month and a half ago, my wife and I canceled our cell-phone plans and became a cell-phone-free household. I related our initial impressions to the Smile Politely audience on July 1.

Reactions to our decision are still mixed more than a month later. Some people seem to assume that we’ll break down and have shiny new phones in time for Halloween. A surprising number, though, are supportive. Supportive in the way people are supportive when you lose thirty extra pounds, or study abroad, or participate in any other life-altering, difficult endeavor: “Wow. That is phenomenal — I wish I could pull it off.”

However, I can’t honestly say it has affected our lives much — which is probably why we could pull it off to begin with. Sure, I’m no longer interrupted in the car by a phone ringing in my pocket, that I then have to try to dig out without getting into a wreck — because we can’t let a phone go unanswered, can we? The single hardest adjustment has been the realization that one of us can’t call the other from the store for input — though we’re rarely shopping on our own anyway.

I will recommend, however, that if you make the jump back to a landline, try to make sure you’re not going to move anytime soon. We decided that our growing family was better off in a town home with space and a yard than a two-bedroom condo at the top of a rickety set of stairs.

After fighting with the telephone company’s website for more than half an hour trying to transfer our service, I became fed-up and called customer support. After 45 minutes, three customer-service reps, and an activation fee, I finally succeeded in my goal of transferring our service the entire mile to our new abode. Hint: Tell them that you do not need to hear about additional services and offers.

I’m sure this service issue will bring the traditional-telephone detractors into the foray. I know from comments to my last post that there are Vonage fans out there. Personally, I’d love to try out MagicJack — but it’s not compatible with older Macs. There are other options in today’s world than the mega-telecommunications companies — so shop around until you find what works best for your situation, I am certainly not trying to endorse anyone.

All in all, I am happy with our decision. When we are on a walk, in the car, at the store, etc. our phone is not demanding our attention (our one-year-old does that enough, thank you). Switching to a cell phone-free lifestyle gives a little bit of solitude and silence back to us that we had forgotten we missed.

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