Thoreau Didn’t Need A Phone

My $15 flip-phone may not be as attractive or sophisticated as a $600 I-phone, but it gets the job done. I wasn’t going to buy one, but my son talked me into it a few years ago so we could communicate more easily. I only use my phone to contact family members and a few friends, not to call people to mindlessly ask “Whassup?” or “How’s it goin’?” So my 200-message package ($4.99/month) more than covers my needs.

Technology has been moving so fast lately that I struggle to keep up with it. Obviously, I’m not what IT companies refer to as an “early adapter”; maybe I’m more of a blind straggler. I am happy with my desktop computer and email system most of the time, but I find there are way too many available apps and options that I simply don’t need. How many “breaking news alerts” can one person handle? There is such an avalanche of information constantly bearing down on us that we are forced to quickly filter out what we want and disregard the rest. This information overload often has me on edge, so I try to keep it at bay whenever possible.

How did we ever survive without all the technological gadgetry that’s available? Living out at Walden Pond, Thoreau didn’t need a phone. He seemed to get along just fine. If he’d had access to a flip-phone like mine, would he have called Emerson late at night to discuss the finer points of transcendentalism? Or to call his mother in town to ask when his laundry would be done? Or simply to order a vegetarian pizza from a local tavern? No, he seemed quite content with his books, his flute, and his long walks through the woods with friends.

Though we are swept along by this fast-paced technology, we seem to accept it with open arms. Technology is the new drug we can’t do without; the more, the better. Where would most of us be without access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and instant messaging? Because social media is so dominant, we pay close attention and try our best to keep up with the pace. But, of course, there are alternatives if we want them. Stepping off the merry-go-round, even for a few moments, is risky. What if someone is trying to reach me and can’t? 

Maybe I’m lucky to own just a $15 flip-phone. It’s so low-tech I’m not tempted by a multitude of apps and features. There’s more time to read good books, talk to friends in person, and listen to vinyl records. And if I lose my phone, who cares? It was only 15 bucks! Besides, my son tells me the Smithsonian may call someday soon and ask me to donate it to their collection. Nothing could make me happier.