Updated: Jan 8
It may seem hypocritical for a blogger to extol the virtues of disconnecting, but that's exactly what I'm about to do. I don't just run a retro-themed website: I live a retro lifestyle, and I encourage you to do the same! If you ditch the cell, and shut down your social media accounts, you may find yourself a happier person. I know I did.
If you're not looking down at your phone, you see it everywhere: Society is glued to its devices, ignoring other people in favor of little glowing screens. What could be that captivating? Nothing, really. The masses are scrolling mindlessly through pictures of food, selfies of near-strangers and cat memes. It's a waste of time, and you only get so much of that.
I've been there. I had a Facebook account for about three months, at the insistence of an ex-girlfriend. Her love of Facebook wasn't what ended our relationship, but it didn't help. Not only did I fail to see the appeal, but I loathed having an account. People with whom I was fine not having heard from in years, came out of the woodwork, eager to share every facet of their lives. For me, Facebook was more than invasive; it was an obligation. I had to check it on a daily basis, to ensure said woman hadn't messaged me with something important. (Why call or email when you can add a completely unnecessary routine to the day?) I deleted my Facebook account moments after she decided to break things off... on Facebook. That was in 2013, and I've never looked back.
I don't even use a cell phone! Yep, I've given up living with a virtual tether, and I'm better for it. The flip phone I was forced to have in a previous job hasn't been active in nine months as of this writing, and I'm fine with not being accessible 24/7. In fact, I bought that phone only for the job. I've always had a landline, and hopefully the option will be there for the foreseeable future.
What if there's a problem while I'm away from home? I deal with it, just like anyone would have done before cell phones. A few years back, my car broke down on the highway. I walked, and lived to tell the tale. I'm not talking about giving up electricity. If you're paranoid you'll miss something important, carry a digital camera with pride.
They say smartphones are the new cigarettes, and this applies not only to their addictive nature, but to the costs they accrue. As an added bonus to saving time and reducing stress, switching over to a landline will save a fortune for anyone brave enough to take the plunge. I pay forty dollars a year for my MagicJack, running on the payphone in my home arcade. Forty bucks a year, and I still have a phone. I can stay in touch with friends and family. I don't have to worry about not returning texts, because there aren't any. I don't stress about losing my phone, as it's attached to the wall. I'm not the guy whose phone rings at a movie. I can go out on the town without being bothered, and I've saved thousands of dollars over the course of years... probably the cost of the arcade itself!
I've seen YouTube videos and blog posts from people who make bold declarations similar to, "I quit Facebook for a week." That's not a quit, that's a postponement. Rip off that Band-Aid, and embrace real life! Why are people eager to have more commitments than necessary? Sean Parker, ex-president of Facebook, admits the site was designed to be addictive. Your brain perceives your Facebook feed as one person. Is it any coincidence that people in record numbers are feeling inadequate?
If you didn't need to know about your cousin's friend's daughter's latest ballet recital, or you find yourself freaking out over having misplaced your phone, take a step back and ask yourself what, and who, should matter. Chances are, you won't need social media to organize what's really important, and the people who love you won't be offended if they have to leave a message on your voicemail. You probably had a life before these distractions. Can you bring yourself to take it back? Buy an awesome vintage phone, pick up a MagicJack and start living again. In the worst case scenario, you can truthfully say you left your phone at home.
For reasons unknown, I felt compelled to make this little plea, the site's only purely-opinion entry. Most people would be inclined to think that I've lost it, but I hope the message resonates with someone. To capitalize on a bitter twist of irony, share this rallying cry through clicking that Facebook "Like" button at the top of the page. Give it a day or two, and let people see it. Then delete your account. After you've fully detoxed, you'll probably be glad you're a little more off the grid.