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Step off the Cell Phone Cycle

I created my own challenge, just to see if I had the willpower. My self-challenge was to see if I can last two weeks without my cell phone. I undertook this challenge not only for myself, but to also raise awareness that people do not have to be reliant on their cell phones for all forms of contact. When my two weeks were up, I realized that though having a cell phone is essential, it shouldn't be the main tool for communication.

On a hot Monday in July, I was overwhelmed with calls and texts. Every few minutes, later hours, I kept hearing my ringtone. My ringtone played so much, I practically memorized its tune. Whenever I answered, it was either the wrong number or someone I knew giving me useless information. If I didn't answer my cell, the person would leave a message. Yet, the message itself wasn't the information the person wanted to share - it was simply a reminder to "call me back".

The same went for my texts. The minute I heard my cell's chime, I felt compelled to immediately pick up my phone just to find out what pointless message that person had. Then, I felt the urge to respond. When I replied, we would text junk back and forth until we ran out of trivial topics to cover. I know a cell phone is vital in a person's life, but when it turns into a series of never-ending interruptions, then it's time to step off the cell phone cycle.

The week after, I decided to create my challenge. I left my cell phone at home and went to work. When I came home from work and running errands, I looked at my cell and saw 9 messages and 8 texts. To uphold my challenge, all I did was look at the names of those who called or texted and put my cell down. I went to my trusty desktop and e-mailed those who left messages. One of those who left a message e-mailed, "Is there something wrong with your phone?" and I replied, "No; why do you ask?"

Days went by and I kept e-mailing those who called. I started to notice that I do have the strength to resist picking up my cell to talk and/or text. Taking a two-week vacation from my mobile device made me had a sense of liberation. Since I left my cell at home, I didn't have the stressors that come with having a cell, which are: Feeling forced to answer it the minute I heard my ringtone and of course, incessantly checking my cell in case I overlooked a message. I went out and enjoyed myself without concern that someone would call just to talk nonsense and ruin my day. My days without being dependent on my mobile device made me appreciate the beauty of silence.

If I didn't e-mail, I talked to the person directly. Leaving my cell phone behind made me actually look at a person and have a meaningful conversation. We would talk and if we had the time, hung out. We went to lunch, a movie, or even had a cup of coffee. We would talk about life, our families, our issues, and what we'll do next. Moments like these build strong, memorable relationships than just talking over the phone. If this were via cell, face-to-face encounters like these wouldn't be possible. It's a bit disheartening to know that many prefer to call and/or text than meet and converse. As far as I'm concerned, interpersonal communication has become a lost art due to the escalation of mobile devices. Perhaps this shows that the smarter the phone, the looser the social bonds.

As we all know, cell phones do more than just calls. We carry them everywhere we go and they come in handy when a person needs to contact someone and obviously, for emergencies. Their perks are endless. From playing games, telling time, saving time, killing time, taking pictures, to surfing the web, and don't forget those apps that make anything you need even more convenient with a simple finger. Yes; cell phones are a necessity in life. However, given that we are founded on the belief that we constantly have to be connected, do we really have to be?

The idea of having a cell nearby at all times is misleading. Mobile devices are just that - devices and must never be used as companions. Even if it's for a short time, put the cell phone down and start socializing. We don't have to be a connected universe. Disconnect yourself once in a while, so you can take pleasure in your real companions and create lasting memories. After all, true contentment does not come from a cell phone, but from those you associate with.

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