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7 November, 2004

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Yes, I've bought a mobile phone.

I've never wanted one - still don't - but travelling to Edinburgh for K's ceremony a couple of weeks ago involved joining a train (in Lancaster) which my mother had already boarded in Crewe, then meeting K. when her plane from Bristol arrived later that evening.  Organising that, and possibly rescheduling to accommodate transport delays (which didn't actually occur), seemed much easier if we were all carrying mobile phones.  Likewise when meeting Helen's plane from Warszawa and coordinating onward travel.

Now I have it, I'll also carry the phone if I'm out on the bike or hillwalking alone, as an emergency measure. Particularly when cycling, I like to just wander, so even I only have a rough idea of my destination and potential route. If anything happened, no-one (in the UK) would know I was missing, never mind where I'd gone, so I really ought to have some means of calling for help.

However, in either case, I can't imagine using a mobile other than when absolutely necessary. I wouldn't send a text message or ring someone just to chat.
I barely use a landline phone, and that's free after 18:00 (or subsumed into line rental, anyway - 4.2p/min if I paid for individual calls), never mind avoidably paying 30-40p/min to make the same call on a mobile.
Likewise, e-mail is free both at home (160 hrs free for 12.99/month) and at work (genuinely free at the point of use), so why would I wish to ****-around with a tiny numerical-to-textual keyboard to laboriously compose text messages costing at least 10p to send?
It's not that I can't afford it, but it would feel like pointlessly squandering money.

A more significant reason is that I feel no necessity or desire to be contactable at all times. If I'm at home, I can make and receive phone calls and e-mails via landline. Likewise at work. Only 1-2 work contacts can contact me at home, and vice versa. If I'm neither at home nor work, that almost always means I'm in a situation where conversation would be inconvenient. Anything can wait. I recently witnessed someone take a call whilst stark naked in the changing room at the swimming pool - who really needs to do that?

The title of this entry is a joke, of course. I don't object to mobile phones, apart from their inappropriate use in public locations. They simply have very little relevance to me. I have a desk-based job with always-on e-mail availability and I'm not part of a mobile-using clique. My friends (apart from H) don't use them (in a social context, anyway) either. This is probably the main reason I thrive without a mobile; as with any form of communication, it requires a consensus between the communicants, and happily the unspoken accord amongst people who matter to me is that mobiles are unnecessary in ordinary daily life.

At the BBC website in September, Jennifer Quinn expressed surprise that it's possible to live without a mobile phone, a 'revelation' which both amused and startled me - are people really that indoctrinated?

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