Mobile Liberation

2013-09-30-iStock_000023936005XSmall.jpgThere is a great line in the movie The Devil Wears Prada where a lead character points to his girlfriend's cell phone and says something like, "If you are wondering who you are in a relationship with, it is the person that is calling you right now." I would add it seems like we have more of a relationship with our cell phones than we do with people around us these days. How did we allow technology to become so interruptive? What features do we really need on our phones?

I asked myself those questions last week before purchasing a new phone.

My new phone decision was surprisingly the most liberating decision I have made all year. If you find yourself being seduced by the sexy upgrade, read on.

Here are a couple of things you should know about me that influenced the decision I made. I am a planner. I like formulas and process. I practice conscious thinking. I am none of those things because of a desire to be some sort of super human who is more evolved than most. I am all of those things because I know at any given moment there are thousands of processes and formulas competing for my time, energy, emotions, conscience and money.

I was not planning to buy a new phone last week yet I knew the end was near for my current phone. Using it was like playing Russian roulette. Sometimes functions worked, and sometimes they did not. Two large black freckles had formed on the touch screen and a third one was growing. Oddly, this sort of fascinated me. At the rate they were growing, I wondered how long it would be before the entire screen was blacked out. After the phone froze several times while making an outgoing call, I knew I could no longer risk having such an unreliable phone. I had been up for renewal for over two years; it was time to say goodbye.

It took over three hours to purchase a new phone with time accumulated online, talking to a rep and at the Verizon store. All Verizon representatives were eager to sell me the latest and greatest phone. They tried to sell me on features that no one bothered asking me if I cared about. My head was spinning as I tried to quickly decide, do I need and/or want this? Rapid fires of internal questions were trying to process in my head as the sales rep spoke:

  • How much more time is this going to take?
  • How much time will it take me to get up and running on the new phone?
  • Is a 4G phone really that much faster and doesn't it have to do with the areas 4G is available in?
  • Are the reps trained to say this to everyone they speak to? "I had the phone you have and now I have INSERT PHONE THEY ARE TRYING TO SELL YOU HERE and it is so much better!"
  • Do I dare ask her to define better?
  • What privacy decisions will I need to make if I opt in to new features?
  • Do I want to be locked into this phone and cellular provider for two more years?
  • Why am I paying a $30 upgrade fee to commit to them again for two more years? What about honoring customer loyalty?
  • Why is my plan so much more expensive as a single person? I pay as much as my friends with families who have three or more people on their plans!
  • Purchase fee + upgrade fee + taxes on suggested retail equal what? Wow! Is anybody else wondering how the prices of laptops and tablets seem to be going down but mobile phones are going up?
  • Do I have any Tylenol?

I was willing to live with black freckles on my phone but I was not willing to deal with all of this. I decided to upgrade to a phone Verizon advertised for .99 that still ended up costing me $64.23. What a racket!!

My new phone is OK. There are some things that are better and some things that I miss already from the old phone. I remembered how excited I was when I got the old phone. There was an instant bond between me and that phone yet I have no personal connection with the new phone. This is what is so liberating!! I am not attractive to it. I don't need to touch it or turn it on obsessively to check for updates in my social networks. I don't even care to play games on it. Somehow, I feel like I gained a new prospective on life. I will make plans with friends. I will use my energy to touch someone that I want to touch me back. I will spend time teaching my dog how to go out for a long pass to retrieve his toy like a football as we play fetch. I will put the phone away and spent time in the present.

Dare I say that by choosing what most people would consider a downgraded phone, I have upgraded my life? Most people I know, myself included find themselves seeking love, money or both more times than we care to admit too. If you can't relate to the pursuit of love, replace with sex. Are we on the same page now? My decision kept money in my pocket and more time for the pursuit of the other. So no, I am not impressed with your gold iPhone.

As we say about men who drive small expensive sports cars, the relationship we have with our mobile phones is implying something unfavorable and comically. Are we using them to show how busy and popular we are? Is obsessively playing games to pass time just an excuse to avoid doing something we need to do? All I know is this, the next time I say, "Keep it in your pants," I will be referring to a cell phone. Oh wait, they cause cancer too? Well, ladies keep in your purse, and guys find somewhere else to keep it out of site. Note: that belt thing might as well be birth control; not sexy at all.