Cell phones and travelling

2018-08-28 @Travel

As one among the cell-phone-averse elements of society, my reasons are fairly standard. I don’t wish to elaborate on an already saturated issue. I will only briefly mention, they directly concern cognitive development, inner piece, and severe skepticism of constantly accessible full-scale computing devices. Some secondary reasons involve closed down operated systems with security, geolocation, and monitoring policies of questionable nature, although surprisingly, I care less about these arguably critical issues.

Ultimately, my aversion to these devices is rather visceral. I could no longer find cell phones even deceptively pleasing to observe or interact with, once the trend reversed from increasingly more compact, pre 2006, to increasingly bigger and imposing, without a physical keypad. The mere sight of a touch screen sends me awry. But I continued with a Blackberry to a greater extent through 2017, years after many considered it a relic. I would have continued further, were Blackberry devices still supported by the Whatsapp messanger, which, regrettably, has become the most used such application. Without it, I struggle to maintain contact in certain regions of the world. Beyond this issue, I cannot think of a single useful smart phone function that I could not circumvent by means of a simple phone, laptop, or a brain.

Over a course of a year, rather than continuously struggling with this messaging difficulty and unappealing device mechanics, I simply adapted a habit of not carrying a cellphone outside the house. This hasn’t been much of a problem either, since no phone is preferable even to a Blackberry. Exceptions have been exercised in those cases I settle into new cities, which are not rare, since I have been moving around quiet a bit. Most concern navigation, although I try to quickly rely on self-orientation. Interestingly, this hasn’t even required cell-phone service by virtue of offline maps. In any case, a few weeks into a city and I generally refrain from carrying the device, barring special occasions.

However, you can make due without carrying a cell phone from day one, even in places you don’t speak the local language, and featuring nauseating city layouts of curves and misdirections in all three dimensions, coming out stronger all the more. It all depends on the extent to which you wish to experiment and interact with your surroundings, considering constraints in time, space, and stress. I have entertained the notion time and time again. Human beings have, after all, managed to somehow navigate themselves for a number of millennia. I have even considered a compass to ease basic planar navigation, enjoying walks in settings of heavy lush vegetation where computers don’t belong.

I have contemplated yet again selling my Android device, as I have for every single one of its predecessors. But I’m leaning towards keeping it, as long as I maintain it largely under house arrest. It is good for four 3.5 at most three functions, since the merits of the first couple I find questionable:

  1. The navigation in the early stages of inhabiting a new place.
  2. Ordering Uber once a month. But I can order one from the computer at home, and order a taxi while mobile.
  3. The infamous Whatsapp messenger. With the phone at home, I access the service via the website application, which requires the phone in the proximity, but at least grants me the suspension of disbelief that I’m not interacting with the phone. As an alternative, I once experimented with running a cell-phone-free Whatsapp instance on a Linux Android simulator. The execution, although functional, caused my laptop to overheat, and in principle, seemed entirely over-engineered.
  4. I find physically beneficial the ability to watch an occasional YouTube video while moving around (at home, naturally). For such non-interactive content, I see no reason to further remain immobile.

Questions, comments? Connect.