(for the other 95% of America)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Let Us Now Praise Inaccessibility

Let us now praise inaccessibility. Let us raise our voices high for being out of touch and off the communicative grid, at least to some degree.
I do not have a cell phone. Neither do I twitter or blog. Facebook knows not my face or my name.

I can hear it now: What’s wrong with this poor slob? How does he exist? Where does he live? ln a cave? Some hut in Siberia? Is he a hermit? Or merely a technically inefficient cultural clod?

I had a cell phone, once. But I left it in my blue jeans and it went through the washing machine. Once rinsed and spun, the phone was very clean but no longer quite operational. That was over three years ago. What was intended to be a brief vacation from the phone has turned into a long love affair with inaccessibility. Just think of it. No one knows where I am. How mysterious! What solitude!

And, here’s the kicker, I am married with three children.
What irresponsibility, I hear you say, to leave your children without immediate access to their dad.

Okay, here’s one qualifier that may redeem me: my boys are 33, 23, and 18; they’re on their own, at least to a certain degree. However, even if they were younger, of what value is my instant accessibility?

But what about an emergency: suppose your son breaks his leg?

My reasoned response is: What, am I a doctor or something? Do I know how to set a leg? Am I a fireman? A cop? An EMT? What good am I in an emergency? I’ll find out about that broken leg soon enough.

Now I admit: my profession (or lack of one, as some of the more callous amongst you may say) allows me the freedom of this inaccessibility. I am a graduate student in geography at UCLA. Went back to school at age 54 and now I’m just a dissertation shy of a PhD. Okay, so if I was a real estate or theatrical agent, or an attorney or a doctor, I admit it would be extremely difficult to get by without a cell phone. But I am a student; therefore, I have a certain liberty that others may not enjoy. I appreciate that. Still, even given my unusual status, there are not many people doing anything these days, no matter how impractical or trivial their pursuits may seem to be, who go without instant access, 24 hours a day.

And what exactly does that instant access get them? Well, let me tell you, I overhear many a memorable call while strolling across the UCLA campus; allow me to share a few. First there’s the call with absolutely zero content, inconsequential to the nth degree, and then there’s its opposite, the ubiquitous TMI call, shockers bruited as if no one else in the world exists..

And are you so sure you want your whereabouts traceable 24 hours a day? What that translates into is that every demographic marketer, every Internet entrepreneur, every wife, every husband, and every police officer has the ability to discover your location and reap the whirlwind of the consequences. Just thought I should throw that in. Not that I’m doing anything wrong, mind you.

OK, I know, I’m on the losing end of history. Cell phones are here to stay. I’m a dinosaur, heaving away in the antediluvian mud. But try out a little inaccessibility some time. There’s a whole mysterious world of solitude out there, just waiting for your silent arrival.

No comments:

Post a Comment