IS IT JUST ME: Saying no to the cell phone

Raise your hand if you still have a landline.

It may seem like a silly question, but the number of people trading their home phone line to rely solely on their cell phone, is growing every day, it seems. As long as I live in my current home I will have a landline because, as I’ve mentioned before, I live in a cellular dead zone – no service, not even a bar, until you get to the end of my driveway. So until a telecommunications company decides to erect a great big signal-strengthening tower in the vicinity of my house, I’ll be a 625-er first, a 631-er only when I’m on the road.

My youngest son is asking me for a cell phone for Christmas, not surprisingly. Although I was absolutely shocked to find out how many kids his age and younger have phones they take to school every day, this information has not weakened my resolve. After all, when asked why he wanted one, his answer was, “so I can talk to my friends,” at which time I reminded him that he could do that on the house phone.

But that’s not enough, apparently. A landline can’t FaceTime. It doesn’t search on Safari, or play songs, or support any apps. No crushing any candy or playing 2048 or taking pictures, either. Certainly no Snapchat. And there’s no swiping a screen, only the laborious work of pressing on the number buttons. In short, a landline has none of the appeal of a SmartPhone.

Having written that last paragraph, I can’t help but think back to the rotary phone. If you’re over 30, few things will make you feel as old as watching YouTube videos of kids trying to figure out how to operate one. Having to spin that dial around seven times would be too taxing a process for kids nowadays, I imagine.

Not to mention the fact that in many cases, back in the day, there was only one phone in the house, mounted on the wall somewhere, likely in a common room with virtually no privacy. You’d have to stretch that poor cord so far to get it in your room that if you let go of it at any point you’d probably kill someone with the recoil (whatever it took so that your sister didn’t hear your conversation, though, am I right?). By the time my grandparents got a cordless phone, the cord on the one in the den was a four pound tangled ball.

I not only remember those old-fashioned dial phones, but I can also clearly recall that, at some point in my childhood, we had a party line at home. Next time I’m bored I’ll have to try explaining that concept to the kids, just to see the look on their faces when they find out whole families had to share phone lines with whole other families. I don’t even think they’ll believe me.

And while we’re on the subject, kids will never know the beauty of payphones. They will never have to mentally catalog where each local booth was in the area, in case they got stranded after a hockey game, or which ones worked and which ones ate your quarter. They’ll never know reaching the desperate point of a group of friends having absolutely no money, not even a cent, and having to make that dreaded call to someone’s mom, who would hear the National Anthem of Teenagers on their end: “You have a collect call from: Mom, can you come pick us up at the pool hall?”

The more I reminisce about old technology, the more I accept that I just can’t do it, I can’t get him a cell phone, not yet. I cringe at the idea of handing one to an 11-year-old. His brother was 16 before he got his first one, and the main motivator in that decision was so that he would have a phone in the car when he was driving.

It would be one thing if it were just an expensive gadget he was asking for, but it’s not, it’s a contractual commitment. As a 37-year-old woman with a second-hand cell phone and no data plan (because dead zone, remember), I can’t imagine paying $60/month for my child to text his friends at recess. I can’t do it.

Back me up, parents over 30. He’ll survive, right?