Saturday, March 10, 2007
Day 5 - Results - Phone
The above picture is of my designated "phone chair" I used throughout the month...I gave the old black rotary phone back to my parents, but decided to replace it with another corded phone (not rotary, of course).
Pre-project I would talk to about 8 people on the cell phone a day...ALWAYS while driving, running errands...I would use the cell phone in the house even though we have a land line. During the project, I was not only required to only use the land line, but I also did not have caller ID, call waiting, or a cordless phone. This meant sitting in that phone chair for every phone call...which was wonderful and has completely changed my perspective on talking on the phone.
I must admit - in the beginning there was some stress associated with not having access to my cell. Situations came up which would have been so easily solvable had I had my cell phone with me (such as trying to meet someone somewhere when there was a miscommunication about the location, being stuck in traffic and late for something - those type things). As these things came up, however, a couple of things happened: 1) I realized that there are always hidden solutions to "problems"...it just took a little creative thinking sometimes to figure them out...and my creative thinking had started to get a little bit rusty (actually a lot rusty) in the presence of all this technology that offers quick fixes, and 2) The situations I labeled as "problems" weren't problems at all...I know it sounds so cliche, but when I felt panic during those times that I couldn't contact someone immediately, the panic was quickly replaced with a sense of peace...I don't have my cell, there's nothing I can do, so why don't I just enjoy this moment of empty space that I'm in...I had lots of moments of empty space in the absence of my cell, and I believe that it's the deep peace felt in these moments that has motivated me to give up my cell permanently.
So throughout the month, I spoke with one, maybe two, people a day. I couldn't be multi-tasking while sitting in my phone chair, so I actually had to allocate time in my day for these conversations...and that was great! I would set up phone "dates" with friends and family (like "I can't talk now, but are you available to catch up tomorrow at 5PM?") and found myself looking forward to having these conversations. I also decided that "call waiting" is really obnoxious...seriously. I had it prior to the project and for the first week of the project. I would find myself in the midst of these conversations that I had looked so forward to and then "beep beep...beep beep...beep beep". The project rule, of course, was no answering the call waiting. But I caved. I was actually home for so few conversations that I couldn't stand knowing that someone was trying to get a hold of me and I was actually home to receive their phone call. How obnoxious! I think in the absence of all this technology I became hyper sensitive to how obnoxious some of it is...call waiting about tops the list for me. I had it turned off after the first week of the project, and it's not going to be turned back on again.
Caller ID is another interesting technology. We had caller ID pre-project, and I really thought I loved it. The phone would ring, and I would stare at the caller id for a moment as I contemplated "do I really want to talk to this person at this moment?" or "hmmm...caller "unkonwn"...probably solicitor...I'm not answering it.". During the project, without caller id, my physcial/mental reaction became so different when the phone would ring. Rather than that sense of dread I would sometimes experience was looked at who was calling, during the project, I would ALWAYS feel excitement when the phone rang. YIPPY! I'm home for a phone call...I haven't talked to a lot of my friends in a while...I can't wait to find out who's on the other end! And you know what, I found myself even being more polite with the solicitors...a little more human. If there is one thing I can say that is the biggest overall result of this project, it's that I feel more human in the absence of all this technology.
Changes in phone habits post-project:
The cell phone is gone...as I write that, for some reason I start to hear "ding dong the witch is dead" in my head. However, I've decided to keep it in my glove box with the car charger for emergencies on the road....but this will start in a few weeks as I have loaned the phone to a friend who has gone out of town - first time in 4 years without physically having a cell phone. Call waiting - gone. Caller ID - some of our phones still have it, but I do find myself paying less attention to it. Answering machine - back. I missed it...I'm away from the house a lot (probably a big difference from the average 1940's woman), so connecting with business-type phone calls was difficult. I welcomed the answering machine back.
I haven't really wrote any pointed advice, but I feel an obligation to with this topic: if you find yourself feeling annoyed or stressed when your cell phone rings, just stop using it. People will adapt to you not having one. I feel free and liberated and enjoying those times in the car or grocery shopping or where ever, where I can just enjoy the moment...if it's important, the person will call my home phone and leave a message.
Tomorrow: Credit Card/ATM vs. Cash - so interesting!