My New Drug Dealer Phone

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I’m not a fan of cell phones. I don’t like being interrupted when I’m away from home. But good luck finding a pay phone. For that reason cell phones have become somewhat of a necessity in modern life. A few years ago a reader suggested picking up a prepaid phone. We had one for a long time and it worked great, as long as you don’t use it that much. We lost it and I  had to replace it recently. For $20 I picked up the Tracfone 440. It bears a striking resemblance to:

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Pay as you go flip phones are used only by old dudes, drug dealers, terrorists and old dude sustainability bloggers.

For the young folks out there let me explain how the flip phone works. Say I’m at Home Depot looking for just the right drip irrigation fitting but forgot to write down how many I need. I “flip” it open and place a call to Kelly:

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At home she picks up the signal on our “land line”:

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There’s one hitch. The only way this type of phone works economically, is if you don’t use it much. No idle chatter. Just, “I’m in a knife fight with a bipedal lizard and got tangled up in the drip line I’m working on. Please send help:”

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The payment plan puts you into the awkward position of telling friends and loved ones that their idle chatter is costing $$$. You have to train people to not call unless they are sending help or are themselves in the middle of a lizard knife fight.

“Texting” on the Tracfone 440 keypad is challenging:

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A group of mostly old dudes sending and receiving text messages.

How many of you have embraced a drug dealer phone? How has it worked out for you?

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54 Comments

  1. I have adapted to the brave, new world of cell phones by just opting out. Now, with the revelations about NSA tracking, I find myself on the cutting edge, so to speak. No-one can track me by my non-existent phone.

    You’re right about the paucity of pay phones; the ones that do exist cost an arm and a leg – I am old enough to remember local calls costing a dime. There actually are a few pay phones in the places I go to shop. I’ve never needed to use them, but it’s comforting to know they’re there.

    Anyway, now that I need reading glasses to see anything small, it’s just such a pain in the butt to 1) find the glasses 2) find the phone and 3) remember how to work the darn thing . . . Easier to keep good lists of things I need to pick up when I’m out and to let hubby know where I’m headed so he can find my body should anything go horribly wrong.

    • Oops! Forgot to sign in before making the comment above.

      As for your drug-dealer flip phone: many years ago, John got a cell phone because he works on big construction sites which often have no phone available at all. He still has that phone, a flip phone, so you’re not alone.

      No one on this planet would ever confuse my husband with a drug dealer. Old dude, maybe.

    • I’m with you. When we lost the last phone (and we only had one phone between us, which was backward enough) I advocated having no phone at all. I hate them. I will admit they are useful when traveling, but that’s all I’ll admit! We actually went without one for a couple of months before he got this flip phone and somehow we managed to not die of technology deprivation. I kept reminding Erik it was how we lived in the 90′s.

  2. I’ve been with T-Mobile for over a decade so I’m not sure that my situation counts as what you call “drug dealer” since it’s not pay-as-you-go. But I own and have always preferred the flip phone. It’s small. It doesn’t pocket dial people. It does the two things I need it to do: talk and text. And I actually prefer it for texting because it has physical buttons so I can text by feel without looking. I’m faster on it than I am on a smartphone. I really dislike smartphones. Typing on them annoys the hell out of me. Maybe I’m just unpracticed. Maybe I will be forced into smartphone land at some point when other options disappear completely (which is close to the situation even now). But I don’t like the ease and degree to which I can be tracked, monitored, and dissected with a smartphone. I don’t like being forced to pay hundreds of dollars and a more expensive data plan for a smartphone. And I don’t need a computer in my pocket. So until they go away, it’s the humble flip phone for me! I’m 37, by the way. Not an “old dude.”

    • I applaud you for sticking to the standard phone. I finally got a smart phone about a year ago, when I got a teaching job and knew I’d be emailing with parents constantly. I sometimes wish I still used my enV3! lol. That method of texting is by far faster and easier, and I will forever hate touchscreen.

  3. I feel this weird obligation, when I see old people grumbling about phones, to recommend the Pantech Ease phone, the phone for old people. I think maybe they aren’t being sold new anymore, but there’s a heap on ebay for about $40. It has a keyboard with large(ish) friendly buttons for txting. In fact there is a whole “easy mode” on the phone’s operating system designed around the idea of simplicity and big friendly buttons. It focuses on the two things you want a phone to do, calls and txts. It does have a bunch of stupid preloaded “apps,” but they are nicely hidden away. Plus, it’s durable; I’ve been using it for about 2.5 years now without trouble, and I’m not very gentle with my gadgets.
    And considering AT&T’s Pay-Per-Use price of 10¢/min is cheaper than anything I can see on the tracphone website… maybe it’s definitely better. (Sadly AT&T’s 25¢/txt would be, like, 5 times more pricey than tracphone. But if you do txt a lot they have monthly txt plans to go with their Pay-Per-Use call plan att.com/shop/wireless/plans/prepaidplans.html ).

  4. You must be my brother from another mother. I was late to even own a cell phone, and it has always been a “crack phone” as we call it affectionately in my house. I purchased it outright so I could use sim cards when I travel overseas, and I buy minutes about 3 times a year. Works perfectly for my needs: I have a short daily bike commute, so no need to have a computer in my pocket either. I am 40, but completely immature, and I can afford it, but I can find no justification for the minimum $100 a month a smartphone will run me.

  5. That was hilarious and, for the record, I also have a trac fone for when I’m on the go. But here’s a nasty piece of information I just read in the paper today. At&T is planning on phasing out ALL landlines by the end of the decade. I love my landline and my 1980′s plug-into-the-wall-phone. Crap.

    Here’s the address of the article if you are interested in reading it:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/big-disconnect-telcos-abandon-copper-phone-lines-19611656#.Udwgv-DrbHg

    • Looks like no one will be able to get in touch with me at all. If AT&T thinks this will force me to get a cell phone, they’ve bet wrong.

      I’m not sure I’ll lose any sleep over this; I hate talking on the phone anyway. And I’m never going to have any grandchildren – at least not the way my kids are managing their lives – so no cute calls to look forward to.

  6. I use a Tracfone LG 420. I don’t need “Bells and Whistles”,just something simple,inexpensive without the mystery fees.

  7. I have a $2/day plan from AT&T. You only pay the $2 on the days when you use it, like the once a month when I want to call my mother and talk for an hour. It gets a little tricky when you just want to order a pizza (who wants to pay $2 just for that?), but I don’t really make phone calls for most things anymore…

  8. I use airvoice wireless, which resell’s at&t’s network. I prepay $10 a month and do my calling for .04 min and texts for .02 each. Some months I add credit, and spend closer to $15 bucks. Other months I use less, and the extra $ rolls over. You can even access data if you want, tho it’s more expensive. Emergency maps when I’m lost cost about $0.40 – .60 to load.
    Next time you need a new phone, buy somebody’s cheap used something or other and get in with a reseller. I consciously decided not to stress about calling times and it’s still worked out cheap.
    I also got a google voice number that forwards to my phone, so when I’m at home and people call, I can pick up on my laptop and chat for hours, at no cost.
    Maybe that’s too high tech for you, but it’s working for me.

  9. had a trac phone for awhile and it was great. during a particularly trying period we both had Verizon and when that trying period was over I ditched my phone. Then I got stuck one day with a broken down vehicle and he insisted I get a phone again, so I got a trac phone. Hardly ever used it. then for some reason, he sent me back into the world of Verizon. Have a very simple flip phone but Verizon is not big on these – no camera, no text, no $$ for them! This one is a refurbish. when it dies, may have no choice but to get a more modern phone, but by then I may stand my ground to go back to a trac phone. Just have to remember to keep it charged

  10. I have a pay as you go phone – I put $100 on it so that it lasts for a year. It’s slightly higher tech than yours – it’s a BlackBerry because I like the full keyboard. I also like that if I want to use data I can just use WiFi. On average, I spent $10-$15/mo, including $5 for unlimited text messaging. My friends cope pretty well with the fact that I don’t chat on my cell phone. I’ve never liked the sound quality of cell phones, so I’ll likely always have a land line.

  11. We have two phones in our household. I use a 2nd hand phone and the T-Mobile prepaid plan ($100 = 1000 minutes/texts). The minutes do not expire as long as you add money once a year. So far I average about $6 a month.

    The other phone is for my spouse and she uses Republic Wireless, $20/month unlimited minutes,text, data. The main purpose of this plan is to use wifi for most of the calls/texts and cell only when out. So far it has worked good enough for us and kept our monthly cell bills below $30.

  12. I’ve been using a Tracfone for years. It’s not even a fancy model like yours. ;) I don’t talk a lot on the cell so its disadvantages don’t bother me. Nor do I text (too difficult on this style of phone). But it is invaluable on the road. At first I had to get used to cutting people off to save minutes. Now it’s expected. No biggie.

    For home use I have Skype. Which I use for most calls made from home, especially long ones. In the end I pay very little for both services. A big plus with Tracfone is the use of Promo Codes. Every time I add on minutes I look for a recent code to enter at time of purchase. With the code I can get anywhere from 30 to 120 free bonus minutes (depends on the code and time purchased). Also, the Tracfone model I purchased came with double minutes. Meaning if I add 60 minutes to the phone I get 120 mins.

    The biggest downside is keeping up with the service days. You don’t want to let those run out. You could lose all your minutes and number. Also, when I switched phones but wanted to retain my number I had to call customer support. Customer Support (at least when I spoke with them) appeared to be based in India. The call was needlessly long and irritating. You could not deviate from their script. The issue was ultimately solved.

    Other issues: The first year I had the phone I got calls for the previous number holder. That was most annoying, especially since they were debt collectors. Eventually I stopped answering numbers I did not recognize.

    Tracfone periodically sends stupid messages advertising this deal or that. Some of these can eat up your minutes. I ignore them.

    Not sure if you want it posted here but there is a Tracfone forum I get the codes from. Let me know if you want the link. Thanks for the great site. – Damian

  13. I use a cell phone lots, I mean for many hours. I love my flip phone. No one would mistake me for a drug dealer or a dude. OLD? most likely. I manage to text on a regular phone keyboard with numbers from 0-9. It is so labor intensive and stressful, so I only text my daughter.

    All the negative comments about pay-as-you-go phones are upsetting as I just decided to go with ATT Go Phone. One price each month is supposed to be unlimited. Not so?

    I love my flip phone–Samsung II. Samsung III is out now. It is built to military specs and practically indestructible. I really don’t care how old I look! The new, fancy phones look so fragile and are cumbersome. I really don’t want those living in a pocket all the time, which is exactly where my phone stays. I cannot afford the fees for carrying a computer around. If I could afford it, I still would not.

    Having a landline is important to me, although I have not had a phone plugged in for over two years–since the tornado took part of the town and my phone. I just have the landline permanently forwarded to my cell.

    Since my cell phone is actually my only phone right now, I do need one with unlimited minutes and I thought the $50, once a month fee was really unlimited. Anyone use one of these?

    Hilarious post!

    • I must say that I resisted all efforts to get me to buy a cellphone. Finally, when I turned to substituting as a way to supplement my income, I figured out that teachers would not wait for me to get home and call them back. So, I bought a cellphone. Teachers would call me as I stood in the classroom next to me to get me to sub. My cellphone more than paid for itself each month. Actually, one day more than paid for the month. Now? It never pays for itself. But, I am dependent. Plus, as I am older and disabled, I need help if I am stuck out in my old car. I could not walk for help or run from danger. I am no longer apologetic.

  14. I love everything about this conversation. There’s never been one moment (ever) when I thought: gee I wish I had a cellphone.

    And when people say “If you’d had a cellphone I would have called you to tell you about…” I have to struggle to keep the relief off my face.

    The drug-dealer phone is a cool idea. Thanks for elaborating and just FYI: no, I don’t want to squint down into your expensive smartphone to see what it can do.

  15. But I’m reading your post on my smart phone right now – and I may even watch an episode or 2 of Star Trek on it later.

    If you want to think of it another way, imagine all the plastic, circuit boards, wires and ephemera your household could save if it traded in your typical bulky desk top (and monitor) or laptop computers, your landline phone, your steroes and speakers, etc., etc., and simply used a smart phone. It’s so much smaller, uses less materials and far less energy than your other conveniences combined. It seems like a far more ecologically conscientious choice to me.

    Plus, ya know, all the kids are doing it. And the Gorns too.

    • An interesting point. I learned at the extension service that this is actually the way a lot of income challenged folks navigate the world–everything is done on a smart phone.

      Plus, as you point out, we’d be hip with the kids.

    • I have to say I love this conversation! I am all for doing without or keeping up with the Jones. But I am reading this from my smart phone. We do not have a computer, TV( it broke and we never replaced it. Never had cable only bunny ears) digital camera I could go on. We may fall into that lower income group- We are not wealthy but its all about what you spend your money on. What I sunk into the chicken coop duck pen and all those seeds for the garden this spring Im sure I could have purchased anyone of those items. We both need at least a simple phone for work and the plan we have is unlimited everything for less that $90 a month for
      both phones. Combine the cost of internet a land line(with long distance for my husband to call home to Hawaii) & 2 drug dealer phones. I believe we save money. I only have one device to keep away from the toddler. I don’t have to load pics to the computer or figure out how to do that. Also not to sound defeated or negative the government watched people before cell phones. Im in full support of your trac phones! I may not be old school with my android phone but I feel its a more minimalist life choice for us!

    • I’m always surprised at what posts generate comments, and I’m loving this conversation too. We made sure that this website would be readable on a smart phone, so I’m glad to hear that folks are using that feature. To be honest, the comments left about smart phones are making me rethink my allegiance to drug dealer phones. I think there is a good argument to be made for the minimalist lifestyle with smart phone approach. Or it could be that it’s not a one size fits all sort of question. For some a smart phone may be best, for others a drug dealer phone.

  16. Okay. Voice of dissent, here.
    I LOVE my iPhone. I love it. Not for the social networking, which I rarely do, or the movie watching capabilities, which are certainly cool, but because I do most of my work for my websites on it – taking pictures, making podcasts, doing interviews, writing notes, making calls, surfing the web, etc, etc, etc! Plus I never have to call when we are out of stuff at home – just text the man and get an instant answer and I’m done.
    Having my smart phone has actually made me more efficient, and hence given me more time to sit in the grass with my kid, or garden more, or cook more, or whatever, because I’m not glued to my computer.
    That being said, I do shake my head in disgust every time I pay the bill. Even if I use my phone more than enough to make up the cost of it. I’m just po’, so paying anything over 40 bucks gives me a minor heart attack!

    • If you are using a smart phone for your job, fair enough. I have no need for one, and can’t justify the extra $40 a month. I have a flip phone too – I had one of the indestructible military ones, but someone ran over it. It didn’t destruct, but the screen was destroyed. since I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade I activated my husbands old phone.

      I love flip phones – my first thought was the communicators on Star Trek too. Rocking the 20th century vibe!

    • Have you checked into Virgin Mobile Iphone plans? I have an HTC (not the new one, but I still like :) ) and get unlimited data, txt, and 300 minutes (never even get close to using all of them) for $25 +$5 insurance on the phone each month. I think that was the older rate but now I’m pretty sure it is only up to $35/month unlimited….the iPhone plan might be a bit more but probably much much less than any contract with one of the major carriers.

      On the main topic, I love and hate my phone. It has been a life saver so many times with maps and directions and looking up restaurant phone #s or movie times but then sometimes it is a real drag (where is my phone!? wait, I have to charge my phone before we leave…..” lol I guess maybe when I grow up I will go back to the flip phones of my youth :) [I'm 28]

  17. I have a drug dealer flip phone, too. And mine is RED! I’ve had drug dealer phones through Virgin Mobile for several years and I love them. They are cheap and they don’t tempt me to spend time checking email and looking at cute pictures of kittens and stuff when I am out and about.

  18. I used to have a smart phone and I purposefully made the decision to downgrade to a non-smart phone. I do text with my kids (in their 20′s) so I like having a full keyboard, so no flip phone, but still simple.
    My family knows that my phone (other than texts) is largely ignored as I hate to talk on the phone.
    I love some of the ideas above for cheap pay as you go phones. Still have a plan with Verizon from the old smart phone days but I will definitely be looking at other options when my current contract expires.

  19. Ah yes, I, too, have one of those flip ‘dumb phones’. In fact I just ‘up graded’ to it a couple of months ago. All I do on it is talk. When I am out driving, I never answer the phone and in the stores I would rather concentrate on what is going on around me. I have been with Boost on a pay as you go, 10 cents a minute plan, for the past 7 years and like it better then any of the A.T.T., Verizon, or other plans I have had since cell phones first came out. And I keep my land line too. Land line phones just sound better, are more comfortable for long conversations, and I don’t worry about having my brain fried by cell signals or being ‘tracked’ by the friendly skies. I do not need to text people nor check my email when I am out. If I want to get fancy when I am traveling I take along my Kindle Fire.
    I had to laugh at your reference to ‘Old Dudes’. Guess I am an ‘Old Dudette.’

  20. I still proudly have a flip phone myself and will probably never get anything more advanced. The phone is also a pretty useful tool at my community college teaching gig. At the beginning of every semester in each class I hold my phone up and say something like “I hate cell phones, but I recognize they’re a necessary evil. This is my phone. As you can clearly tell I do not love the newest fanciest electronic gadget and have no problem asking you to leave is you’re using your phone in class.”

  21. i bought a prepaid flip phone about 6 or so years ago when my previous RAZR phone died. I then put the SIM card from my RAZR phone into the $20 prepaid flip phone. Voila! Now I use my prepaid flip phone on a 40/mo unlimited plan.

    i call it my ‘dumb phone’ because it is not a ‘smart phone.’ It doesnt even have a camera. but it has lasted 6 or 7 years of consistent dropping on the ground.

  22. I had a pay as you go through Virgin Mobile for several years and then AT&T for a few years before it became evident I really did need a smart phone. When I was doing pay as you go, I think I paid $30/quarter at the most, right towards the end. Now, one of the things I like about my smart phone is how few things I carry around at a time. I really like having a camera with me on walks and for work. I really like having my address book with me. I really like having five or six books on hand for long bus rides, and not adding them to my already-heavy backpack. I also text with family and friends far more than phoning – I find there’s less chance of interrupting them during something important if I just have a quick question or need to let them know something. And as a non-driver, I really like having a phone handy to coordinate rides with family and friends.

  23. Well Im not sure what category I fall in I like my technology so have an original first series ‘quality’ (and this is the really important word here) 2009 model g3 iphone the first white series. It is actually classified as retro as it has the funky rounded case. It still works a treat I take all my blog/twitter fotos on it reliably. But that whole train the family not to call you is easy you just put the ringer on mute and dont answer it family and friends soon get the idea that its pointless phoning you for an idle chat. If they really need you they send you a message or voicemail. I get the best of both worlds :)

  24. My wife and I got our “Communicators” a couple of years ago. We use the Go Phone and we give the numbers only to close family and the Boy’s School. We’re charged $1 per day and can talk to each other and other ATT customers “Unlimited” for that price. We buy the phone cards at Wal-mart. It works for us since we don’t use them much and only call each other. I don’t “TEXT”, why text when you have a PHONE in your hands, what happened to “Talking”? These new $30 a month Unlimited plans are tempting but I’m still holding out, For Now.

  25. anyone want to discuss the radiation exposure from cell phones? texting actually lessens the exposure since you have it away from your head as do headsets/earpieces, speaker mode…and try not to carry the phone against you (pocket).

    • texting also helps me save minutes since we (husband, mom, and myself) all have tracfones and for short info instead of wasting multiple minutes talking back and forth I can just text a note….ie: please stop at moms on your way home and bring the chain saw. tree came down on fence during storm. and make sure squash plant isn’t attacking my pawpaws!

  26. TMOBILE DOES NOT ADVERTISE THIS BUT JUST BUY THE CHEAP FLIP PHONE AND IF YOU PAY $30 A MONTH IT IS UNLIMITED TALK AND TEXT, NO CONTRACT AND THE CARD IS GOOD FOR A MONTH AT A TIME, DOLLAR A DAY. TMOBILE WANTS YOU TO PAY $50 BUT DONT LISTEN TO THEM. PAY AS YOU GO CARDS ARE AT ALL 7/11 OR WHATEVER CHAIN IS ON YOUR CORNER.

  27. I know that there are great arguments for smart phones, and plans cheaper than what I can get, but unfortunately for me, verizon has the best coverage in my rural area.

    I heard someone say ‘a luxury once sampled becomes a necessity’. That is so right! I am sure I would enjoy a smart phone, but I am going to stay away from that trap.

  28. My wife and I share a prepaid candy bar style phone, maybe 6 years old? It lives in her car when not in use and mostly is only turned on when we are travelling or when I am at the store without her. It costs $100-150 a year and does most of what we need it to do: make phone calls. Candy bar style (all in one plastic body, no hinges, tiny screen behind plastic) means that it never breaks. Only down side is no camera. Maybe one day I will replace it with one with a camera so I can send her photos of the things I am thinking of buying at the store to make questions easier.

    I also have an iPod touch that I carry all the time. At least 90% of the time I have free WiFi (at home, work, the library, Starbucks, etc.) and it is not worth it to me to spend another $700 per year to cover that other 10% of the time.

  29. I have a flip phone too. With Verizon, since they have the best coverage. I’m on a “family plan” with my folks, who are in their 80′s and that’s the main reason we got it. If they have any problems of any kind and need to reach me, they can (when/if they keep it charged and on). It’s one bill a month, which we split, so it costs each of us $36.

    I don’t get the point of texting, other than appealing to kids who want to be able to “converse” with their friends instead of paying attention in class. Always amazed me that kids figure teachers don’t know what they’re doing. As the saying goes, “Nobody just sits there looking down at their crotch with a smile on their face.”

    Have no interest in a “smart” phone, because so far, I just haven’t found a really compelling reason to own one. I don’t understand how anyone can enjoy a movie on a teeny-weeny screen. (Or for that matter, check websites, or try to read much of anything.) It takes pictures, yes, but from what I’ve seen, the quality leaves much to be desired. Taking pictures with a phone is like trying to mow the lawn with a microwave. Maybe I’m missing the whole point of them. I get the feeling that they do lots of stuff, but none of it very well which is why marketing is key. Maybe someday I’ll get one, but I’ll have to be convinced that it has benefits that I can’t access any other way.

    I’m a phone curmudgeon, I guess.

  30. one more comment from me – a flip phone does not equal a tracfone. my husbands trac is not a flip….it has a touch screen.

  31. Hmm, I’m going to have to come back and look at this thread more closely. The $6/month E Magos gets is better than the $8-12/month I am paying. ;-)

  32. I use a $15 “candybar” phone. Texting on it isn’t too challenging, once you get used to the fact that T9 will helpfully write “good” when you mean “home”, requiring extra keypresses (either to choose which synonym, or to answer such texts as “What do you mean you’ll be good in a fifteen minutes? Why aren’t you being good now?”

    For me, it was mostly a question of cobalt: I didn’t want to send market signals for more lithium-ion batteries to be made, due in part to the impact on people in sub-Saharan Africa. “Burner” style phones are more energy efficient, and so have smaller batteries, but more importantly the batteries themselves are “dead stock” or (in the case of my spare battery) can be salvaged from unusable phones that family members have stashed away.

    Then I got a new job, and the boss bought me an iPhone. So I carry both around with me.

  33. Interesting conversation! As a young person I find that many of my peers readily jump on the smart phone band wagon. I still have my pay as you go phone that could be a relic from the bronze age.
    I have to say, I enjoy not being constantly connected to others or having the distraction that smart phones seem to create. I prefer to have a conversation in person and if I’m going to use my precious phone credits to call someone then it’s for a real reason!
    I think that while smart phones create the illusion of being connected to everyone/everything around you they have the opposite effect. Seeing people commuting on the train (for example), most of them bent over their screen tapping furiously at some game or facebook update are totally disconnected from what’s going on around them.
    Finally, the amount of resources that go into smart phones is phenomenal. The mining of rare earth minerals necessary to make these devices are having huge, detrimental human and environmental consequences.
    I’m happy living the lo-fi lifestyle and I’m happy that others are, too!

    • Douglas Rushkoff, in his new book Present Shock, writes eloquently about this constant state of distraction. Some people can manage it better than others. I think if I had a smart phone I would be tempted to fall into that distracted state–another reason I have my backwards flip phone.

  34. I got rid of my cellphone six years ago and haven’t missed it a lick; it was an easy decision to make since I was lucky enough to two miles from where I worked and I biked everywhere. Recently though I bought a house with a huge yard (hello, garden), which requires a 20 mile round trip commute in a very old car; unfortunately Houston is not currently long-distance bike friendly, though this is changing. After watching your homesteading video, I purchased a TRAC phone and it arrives tomorrow. I only plan to use it for absolute emergencies and will not give out the number to friends or family. Funny though, I did notice though that a lot of my friendships and acquaintanceships (just made that up) waned once I relinquished my phone. Since I’m not textable, and I prefer to live simply, people couldn’t relate and moved on.

    • Let me know how it works for you. And, yeah, Houston is sure not bike friendly. I spent a month there a few years ago–had a great time in a canoe, but would not want to bike it.

  35. I’ve always been too cheap to get a “real” phone and service. I still have a Nokia prepaid in monochrome. It does everything I need it to do and nothing my computer likes to do, so nothing gets all sentient and jealous.

  36. We completed our second year of being cell phone free this July.

    It wasn’t a choice, exactly, but the result of moving to a more rural location where our T-Mobile phones did not work, paying around $800 to get out of the contract (even though they could confirm the phones did not work from our home), and being too pissed off and broke to do anything about it. Now, it feels normal not to have one again.

    What has surprised me is how seldom I really wished I had one. The impulse has hit me about 3 times, but passed. It’s a bit like not wearing a watch when there are clocks and watches and cell phones everywhere. If I really needed to make a call, I bet I could ask someone.

    The other thing that has surprised me are the reactions of others. Most folks seem to hold a certain respect for the cell-free lifestyle, rare as it is, not unlike the respect one might feel for young farmers who choose to plow the fields with draft horses. People attribute all kinds of meaning to being without a cell phone, be it avoiding brain cancer, living simply, or (more recently) evading detection by the CSA.

    It’s not a deep thing, really. But it does seem to make life a bit simpler, ironically enough.

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