Thoughts of a Digital Alternative

By Maria Moss

Since tomor­row is the Nation­al Day of Unplug­ging, we thought it only made sense to relaunch the “Thoughts of a Dig­i­tal Alternative.” Here’s our advice: Use your phone today and “tell a friend.” If you still need assis­tance, down­load the unplug­ging kit:


Pho­to cred­it: Mike Mozart on Flickr

Believe it or not, I’ve nev­er owned a cell phone. This sen­tence com­ing from a tod­dler might not be that astound­ing, but com­ing from a mid­dle-aged woman who tremen­dous­ly enjoys the com­pa­ny of friends, col­leagues, and stu­dents, is rather sur­pris­ing. Why wouldn’t any­one – with the excep­tion of her­mits and strict tech­no refuseniks – want to enjoy being and stay­ing in touch all the time. Well, maybe it is exact­ly the “all the time” that I find dis­turb­ing. Of course, peo­ple tell me that you could just turn your phone off, that you don’t need to be online con­tin­u­ous­ly, that it’s o.k. to be unavail­able at times. And appar­ent­ly, I’m not alone.

Phillip Reed, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Phi­los­o­phy at Can­i­sius Col­lege in Buf­fa­lo, New York State, cer­tain­ly agrees with me. And for those of you who are not quite sure if you’d like to go cold turkey, you could join a tech-free day on the Nation­al Day of Unplug­ging planned for March 1–2, 2019.

But you prob­a­bly want to look before you leap, so let me just give you some food for thought. Here are a few com­ments I’ve heard: A col­league (teas­ing­ly, I think) once said she wouldn’t come on the study trip unless I get a cell phone; friends from my for­mer high school insist I join their “Mädel­str­e­ff” What­sApp in order to be informed about future trips, and my 91-year-old mom tells me it’s impor­tant to own a cell phone in case my car breaks down. All of these rea­sons are valid, of course, but maybe I should point out here that said col­league and I were on a study trip three years ago and every­thing went well; also, I’m one of two in our group of 13 for­mer class­mates who attend­ed every sin­gle trip; and last but not least, I’m an eter­nal opti­mist and there­fore think that a burst tire or some oth­er mishap in the mid­dle of the night hap­pen to oth­er peo­ple, but not me.

There’s real­ly only one thing that wor­ries me: I feel that my “dig­i­tal Alter­na­tive” stance has become so much a part of my iden­ti­ty that buy­ing a cell phone would seem like a betray­al to myself, like giv­ing up an inte­gral part of me.
But does not own­ing a cell phone real­ly make me special?

I hope not.

P.S. I owe the “Alternative” in the title to Drew Hay­den Taylor’s fab­u­lous play, alter­Na­tives.


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