Last week, in Queens, I ran into a friend from college who I hadn’t seen since graduation. He was bartending, and it was relatively busy so, after a few pleasantries he said, “let’s catch up. What’s your number?” And the look on his face when I said, “I don’t have a phone,” was pretty priceless. Because seriously, who doesn’t have a phone nowadays?I don’t. I mean, I do. I have a phone that gives me text messages and emails and Twitter. The trouble is that my phone wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea of temporarily repatriating and has decided to remain English and defiant. And I have not gotten around to getting an American replacement for it.
Let me tell you something about life without a phone in 2013. It is inconvenient and awesome. When I first got to New York, my boyfriend and I made plans to meet up with a friend. I had to go to Columbia’s campus to pick up my student ID (I’ll be a Visiting Scholar there until March), and he goes to Columbia’s med school. We had to pick a landmark and find a time when we would all be on campus, and agree to meet. When my errands ended up taking a fraction of the time I thought they would (hello America!), we milled around for a while and waited. It was so retro! It’s so simple to pick a time and a place to meet people and to stay put if you’re early or they’re late, but it’s not a thing people do anymore. We play it by ear.
I’m not going to tell you that having to sit and wait for people means that you get to spend all this extra time enjoying the world around you and people watching or whatever. I’m not that zen. What makes not having a phone awesome is that you aren’t under any obligations. You appear so socially stunted that no one expects you to get in touch at all.
Not texting is a bit of a drag, I’ll admit. I had a relatively juicy piece of gossip that I really wanted to share with my brother, but I couldn’t because I would have had to have called him while he was out with his girlfriend. I also get a little bit nervous about weird shit. I was in the grocery store with my boyfriend last night and went off to find a bathroom. I made his swear not to move because if I came back and he was gone, I would never have found him again. I was totally convinced last Friday that my dad had forgotten me at the gym. It’s a bit like regressing back to being a small child lost in the mall.
Still, the awesome outweighs the inconvenience. So, my darlings, consider “forgetting” to charge your phone for a while–or accidentally smash it against the wall–and enjoy the freedom of forcing the world to come to you if it wants you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find some PBR and an ironic moustache necklace because I’m pretty sure writing this has made me a hipster.
You can contact Megan, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org.