Last December our family gathered in San Jose for one last California Christmas. When it came to highway travel, we were a large enough group to qualify for two cars. Our first trip involved a drive to Santa Cruz.
The inevitable happened: we got separated. We agreed to meet at a particular spot at a particular time.
The car I was in arrived. We got out and waited. The wind blew. We froze. The entire time I silently cursed: neither party had a cel-phone. It could have been so easy! I call, they pick up, we laugh and meet at Santa Cruz Bookstore cafe.
The wind kept blowing, and our party kept looking helpless. I thought about it some more, and the more I thought about it, the less I liked cel-phones. Why should we be dependent on instant communication? What gets taken away when we are so dependent?
Well ... spontaneity, for one thing. A capacity to live in the moment, and come up with creative solutions for another. When I could suck it up enough to discuss real options, we cooked up a perfectly good plan to salvage what we actually had before us: a blank slate, waiting for our designs. The rest of the afternoon was a treat, but as we drove back to the homestead I was troubled by my knee-jerk reaction. Allowing myself to be so hampered -- emotionally and conditionally -- by what I always thought was a convenience: I was embarrassed, if not ashamed.
My wife visited Uganda a couple of years ago. One of her hosts owned a large brewery. They sat down for a lovely meal, but the host admitted times were surprisingly tough for him: people weren't buying beer the way they used to, and it was all because of the cel-phone. Walking around, and answering your cel is an affordable status symbol. And if it's a choice between beer and a cel-phone, well ....
Far be it from me to discourage temperance, but I'm still alarmed at the sort of status cel-phones (and their dependant companies) confer. My wife has a business cel, which we use on occasion. I'd rather not, for all of the above reasons. But here's another good reason to destroy your cel: terrorists love 'em -- and so long as you foot the entire bill, your cel-phone company doesn't care.