Day 41 – Why I Refused to Give My Daughter a Cell Phone, and Then Did Anyway

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Wednesday – October 8, 2014

Elora

Elora

I promised Elora she would get a cell phone when I did. Which, my shiny crystal ball reveals to me, is never. Why? Because I don’t believe in cell phones. Oh, I know they exist, but only to tempt and torment man. Somehow we went from being to able to talk–talk!–to people the next house or city or state over from the comforts of our home, to being able to talk to them from giant stretch limos in 80’s movies, to just sending written messages with bad spelling, to putting pictures of our private parts in each other’s back pockets. I shudder at the thought of what comes next. Alexander Graham Bell would weep.

I don’t want any part of that, and I CERTAINLY don’t want my kid dealing with it. It used to be the devil would possess our bodies to make us to do horrible things, but that’s so old school. Now, he just puts a cell phone in our hands and all of the sudden we transform into rude, inconsiderate, loud, obnoxious people.

Heaven forbid the only one who can hear you yakkin’ it up with your mom in the line at the grocery store is you.

No, no. Of COURSE you have to take that call that text right now. We were just having a live conversation is all. If it was important I’d be texting you.

Hey guy, why don’t you take that selfie right here in the movie theater? I mean, it’s not like you’re making any sounds. And, please, I can just pretend the tiny, bright, glowing screen in front of me is part of the 3D effect. Wow! Everybody wins!

I’ve made it clear to Elora over and over again that the cell phone is just not happening, but still she has continued to protest. Her pleas consistently fail to move me. I mean, at this point, I take a perverse joy in refusing her. And she knows it.

Which is why a cell phone was the perfect gift for her 12th birthday today.

Erin put the phone in a box-within-a-box-within-a-box. When Elora got down to the last box, the phone started ringing. She opened it, pulled the phone out, and then immediately put it back in. There was no scream, no excitement, just pure disbelief.

Here, I’ll show you:

So, two questions:

1. Why did I allow this? Besides all the safety advantages, Erin finally convinced me that it would be a good idea for Elora to learn about cell phones now and how to properly use them while we still have some influence and control over Elora’s life. So, there are rules like turning the phone in to us at night and “Be where you are.” Stuff like that. The fact is, she will get a cell phone eventually because the only people who don’t are weirdos like me. We can teach her proper use.

2. How do unemployed parents afford to give their child a cell phone for her birthday? Well, first of all, just because we’re unemployed doesn’t mean we’re broke. Not yet. Second of all, that’s what’s great about a grandparent with a family plan. We paid just about nothing.

* * *

We cleaned the house today instead of doing just about anything else. Was fun to take short breaks to watch the strong reactions to my blog “Day 32 – Why It’s Important to Write Like No One Cares” roll in. I learned that wa what was a very clear headline in my head meant something entirely different in the minds of others, as demonstrated by this rebuttal blog (rebuttal blog! milestone!). So, yeah, had some disagreement. The good kind.

I still maintain that if you put your writing out there to be consumed by the public then no matter what you say you’re not just writing for yourself. Acknowledging that fact can make you a better writer. Write like no one cares, then change their minds.

* * *

Scheduled a phone interview with a company in Utah. This would be completely different from the company there I was looking at before. It’s a reassuring thing just to have an interview. When you send out so many resumes and you don’t hear back for a while, you start to think maybe what you have to offer just isn’t desired. That you’re not employable. That’s a deeply stupid attitude, as my 17 constant years of employment will attest, but that’s the emotional part of this game.

I acknowledge that emotion, I embrace it, I move forward.

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8 comments

  1. I’d be lost without my cell phone. Of course, I don’t use it just for making phone calls. This is a partial list of what I use it for:

    – Phone calls (duh)
    – Listening to music
    – Listening to audio books
    – Listening to podcasts
    – Reading ebooks (when I don’t have my Kindle with me)
    – Playing games (The one I use my phone for is internet Go. I’m a lousy Go player, but at least it’s not Farmville.)
    – Taking pictures
    – Connecting to amateur radio repeaters via the internet (it’s an emergency thing).
    – Digital amateur radio communications
    – Talking to guildies (Teamspeak for gaming)
    – Second Life, when I’m not home
    – Ordering groceries (Peapod)
    – Getting directions (GPS & Google Maps)
    – Biofeedback training (using a PIP sensor)
    – Looking up things on the web (Chrome)
    – Checking for radioactivity (really, there’s a radiation counter app for Android)
    – Making music (Music Jam and Caustic)
    – Making videos
    – Watching Movies (I just watched Rio Bravo)
    – Tuning my guitar
    – Learning to play blues harmonica (videos and apps)

    I think I’d be in a corner, shaking with withdrawal, if I lost my phone.

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  2. My husband has the same view as you for “that machine” as he calls it, this also extends to any kind of computer. For me I love the technology and having a computer in my pocket, I don’t use my phone much as a phone but as a computer.

    Of course I agree about the rudness of people who take calls while you are talking to them or text at the dining table,

    But good for you to overlook your own feelings and to let your daughter have a phone. Unfortunately computers and mobile phones are the way of the world today and I think anyone who cannot use them is severely disadvantaged in this modern world.

    Good luck with the job hunting.

    Love Denise

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  3. Three things:

    1. Although I’ve been following along your unemployment adventure, I find it difficult to comment. As a family that’s waded (drown) in those waters (several times) before, I remember how impossible it is for anyone to say anything that can ease the situation. Knowing that the Lord has your back, but not knowing how bad things will get before you are rescued, is one of the most difficult challenges there is when you’re trying to be a model of faith for your kids. Our prayers are with your family.

    2. I only got a phone a few years ago because I had to for work at the time (catering) and felt like I was selling out. I rarely use it for anything other than photos, but will admit that there is inherent peace of mind driving kids around in our 1997 minivan. My college freshman and high school freshman both have one after we said Never Ever. The $100 MetroPCS family plan promotion was only $10 more than what it cost for two phones, and this mama doesn’t have the strength to pass up a deal.

    3. Can I still be a member of Team Brock if I also agree with your dissenter? I believe in the spirit of what you were saying, but every time that I’ve sworn off blogging it was because the {self-inflicted} pressure to entertain or amuse KNOWING that there would be people reading was paralyzing. Which is ridiculous. But real. So I just acknowledge that the whole thing is terribly selfish, and treat it like talking to one of my sisters on the phone. Of course I want to connect with her and hear about her life, but it’s also an outlet for those random ideas and thoughts that are swirling around inside my head to be put out into the universe, freeing up my mind and ultimately, by the time the goodbyes are said, we *both* feel better. I hope. But as we are all motivated by different things in every other facet of life, it would make sense that the same was true when it came to why and how we share. Or don’t share 🙂

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    1. 1. You describe the problem of the whole situation perfectly. We have our faith and we hold to that and experience tells we’re right to do so, but so often it is tempting to give in to pessimism, especially at those times when it does seem like things are going in a positive direction.

      2. I don’t mind the inconvenience of not having a phone. I always make the argument that I didn’t have a phone at a young age and I made it through just fine, but then Erin reminds me that people used to get by without running water as well. And there were pay phones once upon a time. Now, they are passing into myth and legend.

      3. You’re right about the pressure to blog. It’s a real thing and I think any blogger deals with it with each and every post. There are two ways I try to manage those feelings:

      First, I don’t put the pressure on myself to make every blog public. Some of my blogs are set to private only. You can tell because those days are skipped. Those days may have been too personal or too boring, but I allow myself that. I’ve still blogged, but I’m the only one who gets to see it.

      Second, I allow myself to not amuse. Today’s blog, for instance, Day 42, was much more serious than most of my blogs. That’s okay. Still, I’m not just writing to myself with it. That would have to be a blog set to private. Even if I’m not trying to amuse, I’ve still got to be interesting. Maybe I’ll burn out under that kind of pressure, but I’ve been actively writing for 9 years now and I’ve found that my writing is simply better with that pressure rather than without. I just think about story in an entirely different and beneficial way. Might as well jot down notes or an outline if I’m going to write to or for myself.

      I enjoyed you comment, Rebecca. I hope you keep making them.

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  4. I got a mobile phone when I was seven (yes, I am young, but it was very unusual for anyone to have one back then – children almost never did) because I had a somewhat unconventional childhood and was often – deliberately – left places by my parents for various musical events. I think it’s probably the fact that I had a phone a good six years before my peers even started thinking about pestering for one that means I now still only use it as a functional tool for essential communication. My phone, which is only the third I’ve ever owned in sixteen years, doesn’t have games or the internet or a camera. It makes calls and it sends text messages.

    That’s all a very long winded way of saying that I think it is perfectly possible to teach children to use their phones sensibly and safely, especially if you have already given them a good foundational grounding in self-respect and good sense. Also, happy birthday to Elora!

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    1. Ah, this gives me much hope. I love that your age played such a huge part in how you regarded the technology. I hope Elora is equally as sensible. Knowing what a good kid she is, she probably will be.

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