Less is more with cell phones

While searching for a new cell phone online a couple of weeks ago, I came upon the baddest cell phone I’ve ever seen-The Nokia 9290 communicator. It supports Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. It features a web-browser, color screen, (which actually flips up on the back of the phone), Multilanguage support and a whole host of other options.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Saint” it’s the same type of phone Val Kilmer’s character uses to carry out all sorts of crazy espionage.

In other words, it blows away the phone I got for free when I signed up for a plan.

It should have been listed as a character in the credits-it’s that great.

After hours of searching, I thought I had found the perfect phone in the 9290. I was all ready to click on “Add to cart” when I noticed the price tag-$399-which is about a quarter of what I pay to go to school here.

Four hundred dollars was a little more than what I was willing to pay for a phone. Four hundred dollars is, like, three car payments, four car insurance payments, twenty CD’s, ten nice dinners or two hundred chicken sandwiches from Chick Fil A for me.

I decided to go with the free phone and call it a night.

A few weeks later Prof. Mary Quill called me about a survey her English class conducted. Some of the students in her class measured cell phone usage and others, in particular, looked at cell phone usage at NKU.

Two students, Mike Gemmell and Dena Smith, asked 29 NKU students questions about their phones and how they use them. They came up with some interesting results.

On average, they found that the students spent around $40 a month for plans.

This isn’t so bad.

What is bad is that there were students who spent above $70 a month for a plan. One student even spent $100 a month.

While this study can’t be taken to represent the whole of Northern’s student body, it is amazing that they found someone who pays that much.

Amazing still, is that 26 out of the 29 respondents said they used their phones for social reasons. Three said they used it for emergencies.

Only one said he had trouble paying his monthly bill.

What could these people be using their phones for?

Out of all of the students polled, none were willing to give up their phones.

They cited convenience, keeping in touch with friends and planning activities on the weekends among the reasons why they choose to keep their phones.

The phones aren’t necessary or vital to everyday life. In fact, some students even complain about having no money, but are able to maintain a $30 a month cell phone plan. They would never think of stopping their cell phone plan in order to pay for something else.

Maybe they feel disconnected

I’m exactly the same way. During the week or so I was without a cell phone while I looked for a new one, I felt a little disconnected. I don’t think that’s good, in fact I was a little worried about it. Why am I connected to people through a cell phone and why do I feel like I’m missing something when the phone’s not there?

Am I really missing something-probably not. Does the phone and it’s ability to connect people make certain information seem more important than it really is? I think so.

In fact, those crazy calls from your friends in the middle of the night about the speeding ticket they just got, or how they’re upset about whatever, seem more important because you’re pulled into something as it happens, or directly after it.

It’s like the helicopter following a high speed police chase.

These chases always seem important, dramatic and intense because you’re watching it happen. But, hear about it a little later on in a news recap and there’s not that much going on. In fact, most of it can be summed up in a few sentences.

A cell phone is the same way.

Less is sometimes more.