Monday, April 13, 2009

Cellulite Nightmare
By Jeff Yeager


[The following dream began haunting me in my sleep shortly after I wrote an article suggesting that people might be able to save some money and simplify - and therefore improve - their lives, by giving up their cell phones. My naivety about the hell-storm of controversy that that suggestion would unleash stems from the simple fact that I'm 51-years old and have never owned a cell phone. And nothing awful has ever happened because of it. See Matt Lauer get on my case about cell phones in this recent interview:
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/29988677#29988677]


I had the nightmare again last night, the fifth time in as many days. It's always the same. The still of the night is suddenly shattered by a mob of angry strangers, emerging from the darkness and surrounding my house. Some are shouting: "Heretic!" "Idiot!" "Luddite!" Each carries a blazing torch in one hand and a small, silvery object in the other.

I can't quite make out what they're clutching so tightly, so pensively, in their other hand. Then I hear a phone ring. One of the torchbearers puts the object to his ear, and then I realize that everyone in the crowd has a cell phone.

Other phones begin to ring, and more and more people in the angry mob answer their cells and begin talking. I can't tell what they're saying. It sounds like gibberish, like crazy talk, total nonsense. It's like they're talking, but not listening; it's like the conversation is unreal, unnecessary.

Some of the phones play a tune when they ring... the theme from 2010 Space Odyssey... the Stone's Sympathy for the Devil... Pink Floyd's Money.

Finally all of the phones stop ringing and all of the conversations simultaneously stop. A delegation of five burly looking men is dispatched to my front door. They grab me and pull me out onto the porch, knocking me to the floor. Then they're on top of me, pinning my arms and legs, while the ringleader begins trying to undo my belt.

Suddenly I'm viewing the scene from above. Only now it's not me lying on the porch. I've morphed into a young Ned Beatty. And then I hear Dueling Banjos playing, from the movie Deliverance; but it's only the mob leader's cell phone ringing. He answers it, mumbles some more nonsense, and hangs up.

"Now stop fighting it!" he says to me as he finally finishes unbuckling my belt. "Do you hear me now?" he says, which brings a hearty snicker from the encroaching crowd.

"This is for your own good. You need this," he says as a he slides a nerdy-looking leatherette cell phone carrying case onto my belt. Inside the case is a cell phone, just like the one everybody in the crowd is carrying, complete with rollover minutes and a non-cancelable annual service contract.

"Just wait and see," he says, as his cohorts let me up from the floor. "This will totally change your life."

"But, but," I stammer, "That's what I'm afraid of! I don't want to change my life. I'm happy with my life just the way it is."

The leader shakes his head in disgust as he and the rest of the crowd descends back into the darkness. I hear them mumble as they go. "Loser!" "Nut job!" "Crazy man!"

As I stand alone on my front porch, the cell phone on my hip begins to ring. The tune it plays is instantaneously annoying, but it takes me a moment to recognize it.

"No!" I scream, only then realizing the full extent of the inhumanity which has been inflicted on me, "No! Please! Not Muskrat Love!"


# # #

posted by Jeff Yeager at 5:34 AM

24 Comments:

Blogger Bookgardener said...

I once wrote a blog article criticizing instant communication technologies and was savaged in a flood of negative comments. People essentially took the criticisms as attacks on their lifestyles. I was amazed at how virulent the comments were. Clearly, people take this stuff very seriously.

April 16, 2009 12:47 PM  
Blogger Jeff Yeager said...

Hey - Thanks to you folks for commenting. That makes 3 of us.

I'm quite flattered about the demand for previously-read copies on my little book on paperbackswap. To me, that's better than having a New York Times best seller any day ... in fact, it might just be the NEW NYT best seller's list! Let's hope.

Stay Cheap!
-Jeff Yeager

April 21, 2009 4:34 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

The main reason I have a cellphone is just incase the school nurse has to call me because my kid is sick when I'm out digging thru the thrift stores. Otherwise I could live without it. I only pay $100 a year ($106 with taxes - I buy a $100 T-mobile-to-go 1,000 minute card which is good for one year and therefore don't have a monthly plan). So I don't mind spending $106 a year to know the school nurse or teacher isn't trying to get in touch with me during the day.

Oh and I just thought of something else. I like the camera feature on it so I can take pictures, like if I spot a cake wreck at the grocery store.

But I don't text and don't want to learn how to text. Nor do I care about ringtones yadda yadda.

April 25, 2009 1:56 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Hey, I'm with you. I have a cell phone but only because works gives me one for free. I was unemployed for a while and didn't feel the urge to get my own. It was nice not having the stupid thing going off all the time. My wife didn't have one until a few months ago and that is a pay as you go phone. She rarely uses it and we don't have recurring monthly bills. We just buy the minutes we want. A couple of hours of time lasts her months.

The point is you can have a phone for emergency use, which is a legitimate concern depending on your situation, with out having the agree to a monthly contract. This allows you to control the expense instead of the cell phone company.

April 29, 2009 10:15 AM  
Blogger Bryn said...

Great post....hahaha. No cell phones at our house and we have four children. I can always seem to get a hold of my husband and he seems to always get a hold of me.....Kids know our home phone number (17 bucks a month) I also worry about brain cancer. Not going to get it due to cell phones. I also look around at people with the ear pieces and think of a star trek new generation I once saw with a "drug" addiction that looked just like a cell phone ear piece!!

May 5, 2009 8:11 PM  
Blogger KarenL said...

My husband & I don't have cell phones. I like being alone with my thoughts, reading on the train, basically spending quality time with myself when I'm alone. I work in the city, and it seems like everyone is enthralled with their phones. People use emergencies as justification for their cellphones, but I figure we somehow coped with emergencies before there were cellphones. I think that with a cellphone, you give up a lot more than you get.

May 12, 2009 4:52 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Hi Jeff. You might be getting a few more of these comments since I recently referenced this article in my own MySpace blog. The first comment I had was a rebuke to me for not "respecting" the need of other people to be able to reach me whenever, wherever.

Whatever! :)

Let's keep fighting the good fight.

June 8, 2009 1:02 PM  
Blogger Sun Singer said...

The world would be so much more peaceful if all the people endlessly talking on cell phones would just shut up. Noticeably, if you take their cell phones away and sit them down at a table, they don't have anything to say

Malcolm

P.S. Nancy sent me.

June 8, 2009 7:19 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I hate cell phones. More accurately, I hate the way some people use cell phones. I have one, but it's also my ONLY phone. Why the hell would I want two? Also, like Chris said, it's beacause of my son. I'm a single mom. Enough said.

My pet peeves, though, that damn Blue Tooth and the CONSTANT TEXTER! (was texter even a word 20 years ago?)

NO ONE is important enough to have a Blue Tooth, in my opinion. And CONSTANT TEXTER should have both their thumbs broken.

June 27, 2009 6:16 PM  
Blogger Jeff Yeager said...

Thanks for the comments. It's good to know I'm not alone. Cheap, yes, alone, no.

July 11, 2009 9:52 AM  
Blogger Monica the Garden Faerie said...

LOL, I have a pay-as-you go cell phone that Traget had on sale for $30 including free air time. No bells, no whistles, no texting, no photos; just a phone. I use it only when traveling (mostly to arrange with people who insist on having cell phones) and to make the odd long-distance call (I don't pay for a long distance carrier at home. Refills last me forever; can be as little as $30-$50 a YEAR. I don't admit to having this cell phone and don't give out its number unless needing to coordinate with said people who insist on calling cell phones! :)

August 13, 2009 8:52 AM  
Blogger Test said...

I avoided cell phones until the day I discovered I could connect my PC to the internet thru one. Was paying $90 + long distance per month for a landline phone (with non-pub # fee) and fast DSL broadband. Cell gave me slower (like slow DSL) internet connection plus free long distance and a non-pub phone for $45/month. I disconnected the landline and DSL. Recently went with a full broadband smartphone with unlimited internet for $75/month and now find myself rarely needing to fire up the PC because I can do email, surf the web, download files, maintain websites, and watch youtube on the phone. I am writing this message on the phone. My electricity bill was $18 last month. I never use the phone next to my head or wear it. Either I use a wired headset or speakerphone when I use it to talk.

I figure there is an environmental benefit to cell phones too. We no longer need to send or maintain the miles of expensive copper wire needed to reach individual homes. Ham radio is also capable of packet technology so theoretically we could avoid grids for phone and internet.

The phone has also replaced my big stereo. Awesome room filling sound is available with my $99 2.1 Cambridge Sound System (with crossover subwoofer) that pushes 25 watts tops. The phone only needs 4 watts. A single cheap 15 watt solar panel might run them. and would easily run the phone alone using a wired stereo headset. I won't use bluetooth next to my body.

So us cheapskates may need to rethink our positions here.

August 29, 2009 10:29 AM  
Blogger caron said...

I use a Tracfone, cost $10 plus $99 for a years worth of service and so many minutes. I do not give out the number to anyone and I leave it off unless I want to use it. Landlines and phone contracts have monthly taxes here in NY which are too high as it is. I only pay sales tax on the phone and card. My husband has a fancier Tracfone for work. We do use the feature that shows a name instead of a number when someone calls in, like MOM or JOE or BOSS, that way my husband knows if he should answer or wait and return call later from home, thus not using up the minutes.

December 16, 2009 12:20 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I have both a land line and a cell phone -- and I'm retired. But before anyone takes a shout at me, let me explain.

I live in a Northern state that has VERY cold winters. My two sons wanted me to have one because I usually travel alone in my car. A cell phone could definitely be a life saver if a person is on the road in the Winter and has car trouble or an accident. One of my sons put me on his plan so the cost is only $15/month. I get pictures of my grandchildren sent to the phone, and being we're with the same carrier, my two year old granddaughter can even "talk" to me on the phone for as long as she wants to.

The plan includes long distance any where in the USA every evening after 7 p.m. until 6(?) a.m. (I think that's right) and every week-end.

The reason I also have a land line is because my 88 year old mother lives in the same small town as I. As a Depression era citizen, I know she would not call me on my cell phone because it would be a long distance call for her because my cell phone area code is different from hers. She needs my help occasionally, BUT I know she would struggle herself rather than spend the money on the long distance call (even though she can well afford it). She even refuses to have an answering machine. I've recently bundled the land line with my cable TV and internet so now the actual cost for the land line is only $10 compared to the $24 cost of having a separate carrier for the land line.

Sometimes this new technology keeps us, or our loved one, safer and that is exactly how I see my need for both types of services at this time in my life.

January 1, 2010 9:31 PM  
Blogger Raindance said...

We love our Magic Jack! $19.95 a year and unlimited long distance. Plug it into a USB port on your computer and you are there. That way you don't ever pay for another phone service at home. Found a $10 Virgin Mobile cell phone (pay as you go) and just leave it plugged in so I can grab it for long distance trips over the mountains. Otherwise don't use one. Thank you for opening up this dialog - I felt out of touch until I saw other people felt the same way.

April 6, 2010 1:56 PM  
Blogger philly mom said...

I'm also a mom of 4 and we dumped the landline long ago. Sure, people got along for years without cell phones, but back then there was a payphone on every corner. I figure the small amount we pay for phones is cheaper than what I'd be paying if I were to reimburse the other kids' families every time my kids needed to borrow someone else's minutes to let me know the coach didn't show up or practice was going to be running late or whatever.

I honestly don't know how a family with active, involved tweens and teens gets by without cell phones, unless the kids are relying on borrowing their friends' phones. There's nothing wrong with that, but a smug cell phone free attitude is disingenuous. For people with kids, there is a happy medium between being incommunicado and watching them text each other across the dinner table.

April 13, 2010 8:07 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Hi Jeff, It's Donna here from Willis, Tx. Too bad you don't have RSS feed that I can put on my blog, "Comin' Home". I'd love my readers to be able to access your posts whenever they like! You are featured prominently on my sidebar.

I love your articles as you already know! I have to say, that I am guilty of owning cell phones though I thought I would never capitulate. Like the mom before me, I now have kids to keep track of. One is a daughter on the road driving long distances often carting the other two kids to speech and debate and square dances.

I managed to live without one for so long! We only started using them two years ago. At first I was on my adult son's plan at $10.00 a month. He wanted his wife to be to be able to contact me while we were going store to store finding deals to make the world's cheapest ever wedding (except for maybe an elopement.)

Then Rebekah started commuting to junior college. Jacob is on the road because of Speech and Debate, and Mock Trial. Rebekah drives him for me, and picks up groceries and misc. back and forth on the way.

I would not feel at all comfortable having two to three teens driving all over the North Houston area without being able to call us.

And pay phones are virtually impossible to get to now and not at all safe for a 19yr. old girl out on her own.

But Tim, my dear hubby, whom you have met, said as soon as the kiddos are out of the house..he's dumping our cell phones and computers. Ha! Our youngest is 15...three years and counting! I think I will believe that when I see it.

No one but our graduated daughter is allowed to use a cell phone for communication except when we are at tournaments. (Usually held on college campuses.)I really don't want the kids living glued to electronic stimuli!

If the kids want to talk to friends, they skype them! I just love SKYPE!! Great article!

April 16, 2010 5:41 PM  
Blogger Robbie said...

I actually got rid of my land line, and kept my pre-paid cell; I spend about $100 to $120 per year on it. It saves me about $200 per year.

April 17, 2010 11:06 AM  
Blogger Lazy Mama said...

I would love to be part of the self-righteous non-cell phone carriers. I always hated cell phones until smart phone technology came out. I really do think if the technology fits what you do for a living (in my case, I work in marketing as a writer, sometimes from home, sometimes offsite). The iphone helps me because my clients can get in touch with me at different places. I am rarely "at my desk." I do need to check email and check stuff on the internet regarding my business and once I got an iphone, I felt liberated. No longer stuck at home, tied to my computer. I get to set my own schedule, be available for my two kids and run a business. And, I write off the expense. So, don't judge cell phone users. But, if you don't NEED a cell phone or if you can get buy with the cheapest, slimmest option, more power to you. Just don't assume that everyone who gets the premo is doing it because they have to have the latest gadgets. Sometimes, technological advances ARE helpful.

April 17, 2010 7:55 PM  
Blogger pogperson said...

My husband and I both have a cell phone, a cheap tracfone that we pay almost nothing for. We don't chat on it and don't give out the numbers to anyone. We use the phones only for emergencies such as being stuck on the road in cold weather. It's nice to know that, if I have an emergency, I can reach my husband right away, and he can do the same with me. It's worth it for the peace of mind, knowing we can always reach each other. That being said, I get kind of enraged at people who are perpetually on their cell phones, particularly when they can't safely drive and talk at the same time (or, worse, text). Many places that used to be a quiet refuge, like public libraries and parks, are now filled with the noise of constant ringing and loud conversation. I quit singing in the choir at church because I got sick of people taking calls during choir practice - how clueless and inconsiderate we've become, and the cell phone is at the root of a lot of it.

May 6, 2010 10:14 AM  
Blogger Ghost said...

I worry about people being so attached to their stuff, especially cell phones and technology. It really says what a person's priorities are when their toys become a necessity. I'd love to go back to restaurants with my mom when she's in town and not be subjected to somebody's blah blah blather blather text type twit.

May 6, 2010 4:54 PM  
Blogger Bobbie said...

I do not personally own a cell phone, but they can be very useful in situations but overall the privilegs that they provide are abused. Cell phones have taken away from the old fashion way of communication. I will never get over the fact of how you can be setting next to someone and instead of just turing to you and verbally speaking, they send you a text message! The future relies on the children of this nation that have no idea how to communicate. With such advancing technology today I am so dissapointed in what it has done to the human race.

May 11, 2010 10:41 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Ok, so I like gadgets and have had a cell phone for a long time, but I don't always have it on or even with me. I tell complainers "I purchased it for MY convenience NOT yours!" "I have a home phone and that is my primary phone, leave a message!"

May 11, 2010 12:06 PM  

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