I tend to be a mid-adopter. I’m not right up there at the front of the line picking up new technology, but I’m also generally not among the last to pick it up. I sort of give things a chance to see if they look interesting and to get a feel for how they will work out, and then I buy something, usually something in the mid-range, probably primarily because I’m cheap.
I’m reluctant to jump on board with new technology, as a general rule, because I often get bored with things. So I have to ask myself if I am really going to use something, whether it’s a new sort of technology or a website or what have you. If I’m going to put in the energy to buy it or sign up and then learn it, I want to make sure that the energy will be repaid and I’ll still be using it in the future. It doesn’t do me much good if I tire of it within a few months and it sits around unused, reproaching me for not being more active with it.
And, of course, I have to mull the consequences of adopting something new. Will it change the way I do things? (I don’t like change.) Will there be some sort of drama or problem associated with it that turns it into a nightmare instead of something pleasant or time saving or even enjoyable? Is there some sort of unintended consequence that I need to consider before taking the plunge? (Acquiring a computer, for example, caused my decent cursive to decline into an incomprehensible scrawl, forcing me to switch to my chicken scratch handwriting, making handwritten communications from me essentially illegible.)
I first acquired a cell phone in 2002, when it became evident that I really was going to need to have one for the purpose of coordinating in the City. More and more people had them, more and more people were relying on them, and it was getting to the point where it was tremendously inconvenient to not have one. People were starting to become accustomed to the idea that they could change plans at the drop of a hat, coordinate activities within minutes, organize groups over the phone while they were out and about. I would show up at an appointed meeting place and no one would be there, and I’d go home and there would be messages: “where are you?!”
So, I got a phone, and I’ve kept up the contract all these years.
But, the thing is, I don’t really use it any more. Even when I’m in the City, I don’t use it, because for the most part I’m doing my own thing and going to scheduled things for which last minute changes are unlikely. For the majority of the time, my cell phone sits on the charger. It doesn’t even work very well at my house. It used to be my primary phone, but people have started to learn to call me on the landline because I often don’t answer the cell at all, and when I do answer it, it’s often impossible to carry on a conversation because the reception is so poor. And, as fun as it is hanging out the window to find the sweet spot when it’s freezing out, I’d much prefer to talk in the warmth of the living room, on an armchair instead of perched on the counter under the window.
I kind of want to give my cell phone up. But I encountered stiff opposition within myself as I wrestled with the idea. I’ve had the number so long at this point that I worried that people who only have that number might not be able to contact me. And then I wondered if I really want to hear from someone who hasn’t called in several years (because the people I’m in regular contact with at this point all know that I have a landline and that it’s the better number to use), but then I thought that’s sort of unfair. After all, there are lots of people whom I think are perfectly nice, even if I don’t talk to them very regularly, and it would be nice to have the option of talking to them at some point if they happened to call.
And, of course, I fretted about trips to the City. Sure, I’m not using it much now, but when I do use it, my phone is very handy. It allows me to meet up with friends I might not otherwise get a chance to see, because often I don’t know what I will have time for until I am there and I see how I feel and how things shake out. And, of course, it would be extremely useful in the event of an accident or a problem or what have you. Honestly, if the plan was five or ten dollars a month, I thought I would probably just keep it on these grounds alone, but do I really want to pay as much as I do on the off chance that I might need my phone?
There’s also, of course, the issue that several phone companies are starting to push for an end to landlines. They don’t want to maintain them anymore, and they’d like to be able to drop infrastructure support, allowing landlines to phase out. Knowing my luck, this means that if I get rid of my cell phone, my landline will stop working shortly thereafter. And, yes, I know that there’s VOIP and all that stuff, but in addition to being a mid-adopter, I also tend to be recalcitrant about replacements for existing technology. I know it sounds absurd, but I see no reason to use VOIP when I’ve got a perfectly good landline.
The obvious solution to this problem struck me like a speeding train the other morning: Buy a pay as you go plan. I’m not quite sure why no one has suggested this to me, because they are available here, and I whine about this dilemma on a regular basis. Come March, I am totally giving Verizon the boot and switching to Tracfone. And all that agonizing was for nothing.