For about two hours today, I didn’t have a phone. I didn’t miss it.
As you know, this is day two of our no-phone challenge. You can follow our progress on this blog and on Twitter using the #nophone hashtag.
Yesterday, we were supposed to go into withdrawals from lack of voice communications. We didn’t. Instead, we muddled through it and when we had to make a call, we fired up Skype.
In many respects, Skype was far superior than anything our cell phone company could offer, but at the same time, it was not quite perfect. The reason? Varying bandwidth speeds between cellular towers, probably. But who really knows?
So today I thought the withdrawals would start in earnest. I mean, it’s the first day of the workweek and people will be calling, right? Wrong, again.
Since we’re on assignment and since it’s the middle of the summer, the only pressing items that required a voice communication could either be postponed or could take place through Skype. One such call with a colleague is scheduled to happen later this week.
This afternoon, I went totally phoneless. I feel fine.
I was on a long-board in Pensacola Beach, Fla., where having a wireless device is impractical. The OtterBox case on my iPhone 4s is good but it’s not that good and a little salt water probably would have destroyed the smartphone.
It got me thinking …
If you take away the technology — the phone, the computer, the tablet PC — and focus on what the technology does, what’s really important? Is it hearing the other person? Is it seeing the person you’re speaking with? Or even the people that you’re speaking with?
I think 20 years ago, before email was being widely used, the phone was the only affordable electronic option for communication, so we didn’t really have time to contemplate whether we might prefer to have a picture with the sound, or whether text would work better.
Today — now — we can have that discussion. What works best?
I think voice calls are highly overrated.
Once the oligopolistic grip of the bloated cell phone carriers has been loosened, and the bandwidth flows freely, we will be able to choose how we want to communicate, and I’m willing to bet “voice” will not be our top choice.
Video? Perhaps. Text? A strong contender.
So as I watch the sun set from my room here at the highrise Holiday Inn, with my cell phone quietly powered down, I think big changes are ahead for the way we communicate when we travel, and the changes will be good for everyone.
It will be nice to spend time on a train or bus and not have to hear the guy next to you shout loudly into his headset. That might still happen, but I’m willing to bet the person he’s yelling at will gently encourage him to send a text or email next time, or steer him to a video call on Skype, where body language will remind him that he’s yelling and that he’s being rude.