It is late in the year of 2008 and I am one of the very few Americans that I know that does not own a cellphone.  I’ve never owned one, in fact.  There was a time in the early part of this decade when cellphones were making the awkward and annoying transition from being a flashy novelty for the affluent into becoming a general everyday utility.  It was at that time that resisting the cellphone was a source of pride and integrity.  When Jamie Lee Curtis was on the television spewing out nonsensical phrases like “anytime minutes” and that Vorizon dude with the grey jumpsuit and the face begging for a fist in it was bleating “Can you hear me now?  Can you hear me now?” over and over again the choice to not join that squad of turds was an easy one.  People that had cellphones in 2001 generally didn’t need them.  They were mostly a novelty for soccer moms and dumbfuck bling bling people that flushed their money away on diamond grills and P-Diddy albums.

Things are different now.  These days having a cellphone is as commonplace as having a set of car keys.  It’s expected.  It’s normal.  You no longer look like an asshole when you’re walking down the street talking to no one.  Cellphone etiquette has evolved to the point where people know that you shouldn’t answer the phone while you’re in a movie theater or ordering dinner at a restaurant.  This year several states finally passed a law making it illegal to use a cellphone while driving.  We, as a people, have evolved.

I’ve been in many a situation where cellphones have saved my ass.  I’ve also been on the opposite end where not having one has caused me undo trouble and inconvenience.  I’ve been stranded at the airport with no ride and no money at 3:00 am.  I’ve broken down on the side of the freeway in the middle of nowhere six miles from the nearest exit.  I’ve been lost in a strange city en route to a rendezvous at a place I’ve only heard of.  Make no mistake, I realize the scope of functionability that cellphones provide.

But still, there’s a part of me that wants nothing to do with them.  It is the crotchety old man part of me that hates teenagers and sneers at shitty rock bands.  It’s the part of me that remembers the “good old days” when people had standards and knew how to party.  When it all boils down I am from “Generation X”.  I am cynical to the core of my being through no fault of my own.  Anyone born after 1980 can never truly understand.  They weren’t there at the height of the cold war.  They weren’t born and raised on Star Wars.  They didn’t get together with the whole family to watch Married With Children.  They weren’t frying out of their minds on an endless supply of pure LSD for three straight years.  They aren’t impressed with Nirvana and don’t really know what the big deal was with Kurt Cobain.  They can’t remember a time where they could turn on the radio and hear good new music.  They don’t remember what life was like before the internet.  They grew up with cellphones.

I didn’t.  I’m in my thirties now and have noticed a gaping generational chasm between anyone born in the 1990s and myself.  I was candy flipping at underground and highly illegal raves before they could walk.  I was gambling hundreds of dollars on the Super Bowl before they even knew what money was.  I was in a beer guzzling metal band when they were watching “Blues Clues”.  We can’t have a conversation that’s flow isn’t inevitably broken by a reference that goes over their heads.  They just weren’t there.  And while I wouldn’t hesitate for even a second to nail a nineteen year old girl to the wall, I know I’ll never truly relate to them.  Hey nineteen, we got nothing in common.

For someone born in the 1990s text messaging comes as naturally and easily as opening a bottle of beer with a lighter comes to me.  Watching these kids is almost fascinating.  Their fingers fly across these tiny buttons and within seconds they’ve sent a lengthy and detailed communique in a coded language that is completely foreign to me.  When I borrow somebody’s cellphone to make a call I feel like a grandmother trying to work a DVD player.  I still press “1” before I dial an area code.  Hell, I still dial numbers.  I’m like a slow lumbering dinosaur surrounded by chipmunks on speed.  I’m out of my element.

But the time has come for even me to cave.  On October 15th I will get on an airplane bound for San Francisco where I will be assistant directing a movie.  Not having a cellphone will not be an option for me.  That means that at some point between then and now I will have to go to the mall and deal with people I do not want to deal with.  I do not like the people that sell cellphone plans.  I don’t like their slick hair, their cheap cologne, or their arrogant demeanor.  I don’t like their cheap pseudo business attire that attempts to conceal their trashy background.  I don’t like the aspect of society that they represent.  I don’t like their product, and I don’t like them.

I am absulutely dreading this eventuality.  I really don’t want a cellphone if not for any other reason than I don’t want to pay another bill.  It’s really that simple.  I don’t need a gadgety doo-dad that takes pictures and plays mp3s and checks my e-mail and regulates my heartrate and triangulates my position and boops and beeps and costs me $50 a month on top of the initial cost of buying the damned thing in the first place.

Everyone I know has lost their cellphone at one point in time.  Whenever they do it is a tragedy for them.  They lose all their phone numbers.  They lose all their contact with the world.  They freak the fuck out.  It’s crazy.  It’s like watching a heroin addict whose regular fix didn’t come through.  I don’t want to become that.  I don’t want my vitality to revolve around an electronic toy.  I don’t want another artifice to dictate the path of my life.

Wait a minute… What am I saying?  I live in the United States in 2008.  My whole life is artifice.  I’m typing on a computer right now.  I’m sitting in an office chair.  I’m looking out my window and I see parked cars, houses, paved roads, and telephone poles.  I’m surrounded by gadgets and tools.  I don’t know the first thing about survival in the wild.  I’m a city-slicker.  What am I complaining about?  What’s one more thing?  Fuck it.  I might as well get the implants in my head and plug into the matrix.  Beam me up, Scotty.  Cellphones here I come.

Se la vi.

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One thought on “The Cell Phone, Angel or Devil?

  1. A letter regarding toleration
    hola poster
    until now you were unaware of my existence. However i do feel that this is in fatc providence that the date (which i will henceforth refer to as the 17th, in an ode to april 17th 1961, or the bay of pigs) you have chosen to purchase your cellphone is in fact TODAY, and i not 10 minutes ago had been speaking with a friend about cellphones, her of course being of said faith. After having spoken about them i was curious as to what would happen if i “googled” (how ironic) “devil thy name is Cellphone”, and of course you were the first none potential subscription or data package to come up. so that said to get you up to speed, i am a 19 y.o male from Canada actually. I am however currently studying in the u.k with a group of students from the U.S. That said, the second day we were here, the theme was …cellphones, they all had to capitalise on our first increment of free time to get a Cellphone, and compare packages, which although i think of myself quite well versed in the matters of the “information age”, these packages still continue to BOGGLE my mind. Anyways, i cannot relate to you, or really make a connection to your “life experiences” although i do know who Kurt Cobain was, and i have listened to the c.d (and i do stress c.d) that hads the picture of a naked baby reaching for a dollar (oh which increment i do not know) bill in a pool. That said until i typed it i rly didnt think of the imagery their, maybe you can enlighten me, i would imagine that it is supposed to represent the child (being of course humanity in its ignorance, and arguably her innocence, actually im gunna go with innocence here) chasing in futility, the almighty dollar withing this pool or rather cesspool. ANYWAYS, another time, for their are more pressing matters at hand. The fact of the matter is we are all in many respects that baby chasing the dollar, but in that we are all different babies, we have all been given reason, or rather choice. Our choices, and various experiences is what makes us individuals that sets us apart from the one all engrossing image of the baby. Okay all lofty words, and thought, and bigspeak aside. i as well have never, do not, and will never purchase a cell phone. Originally i was all for it, but thankfully my parents would not equip me with one, and for the last several years i feel quite indebted to them, as i feel firstly i do NOT need them, i have never been saved by them, and besides disgruntled friends on a friday night reaching me some hours later then the exact moment having been not 10 seconds earlier, was when they desired my divided attention. All said, they were not phoning me to inform me of the second coming, or even that their was a party. That said, firstly i do not like them because i DO NOT want to be contacted all the time (notice the period). as well, i do not want to have my cellphone off, and then NOT be contacted, but then my friends/relatives/accuintances who decided to call me @ 6:00 am or 12:00pm, they know that i in fact do have my cellphone off as it went straight to voicemail, and i will no doubt recieve an angry voicemail travelling at 70 mph, that i should always have my cellphone on, thats the point.! As well, maybe it is my act of non-conformity, but in that it is in my opinion one of the last pure, acts of nonconformity because in this age a cellphone is easier to get then sliced bread, because IT IS a choice to NOT have one, rather then to have one. admittedly these ramblings are the result of a scattered mind, however a scattered mind that does have 1 thing it is certain off. which is of course that altough i live in the age of the cellphone, and i feel i could work my way around them, not texting however, i will not purchase a cellphone. That said when it comes to this “leviathan” and do not allow the increasingly small sizes of this gadget to fool you, it is in fact Leviathan, or if you had grown up in the time of beat poetry then, a better relation would be MOLOCH, in the words of Allen G. Another reference to Allen G, is that author of this aforementioned article…”you are a beautiful sunflower, your are not your skin of flith your dust and soot upon your pedals from the nearby locomotive you are not your filth and grime, dont ever forget you are a sunflower. beautiful in your most naked form, freed from this bondage of cellphones and gadgetry, Adam and Eve in their earliest of days had no clothing, as they had no sin, as they had no shame, and as they had no service provider, once of course they dared the apple, they were pitted into a world of sin of shame, into THIS world, as this is the world of sin that we live in, and be you Christian or not, i defy you to walk our streets and say that this is heaven, to say that we have not clothed our naked, and in their purest form our most beautiful bodies, with first cloth and now cellphone, all of this is out of shame. All of that said, iit al boils down to your reason, and your freedom to choose, and remember that goodmen choose freedom, the rest licence.

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