No Mobile Phone

I have had a mobile phone since 2001, over thirteen years, but for thirty days, from Tuesday the 10th of February until the 12th of March, I shall live without.

The big question is:

Why?

This project is part of a long term experiment with positive constraints, which are ways of opening up the imaginative space behind ingrained habits and unquestioned social customs. Having had a mobile phone for over thirteen years, I’ve fallen into lazy habits and lost both the benefits of a life without and my appreciation of the phone itself.

One of the best things about using positive constraints is that you don’t know what you’ll discover during your experiment. One of my friends recently gave up her smartphone for what she called “a shit phone” (it still made calls and thus would be considered a miracle in any other age but ours). She was expecting to experience a vast reduction in her communication; what she wasn’t expecting was that she would write more music, improve her relationship with her mother and become a graffiti artist.

Having said that, here are a couple of reasons why anyone might want to give up their phone (at least for a while):

  • Using mobile phones make us more anxious, which has unexpected knock-on effects.
  • According to a Science Museum survey, the mobile phone is the tenth most important thing people “couldn’t live without”, beating out central heating, fresh vegetables and shoes.
  • In New York, a third of people can’t even walk down the street without their mobile phones. Check out this video, part of a campaign by New Tech City called “Bored and Brilliant”:

So that’s it. If you need me, you can catch me online or at home. Otherwise, I guess I’m out!

Elevate Outroduction

This is the last in a daily series of articles taken from Elevate #10. I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as we enjoyed being there!

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Words beget worlds. From “consumer” to “citizen”, the words we use and the stories we tell do create the world we live in today and the not yet worlds we can imagine for our future.

For all our technological advances since the invention of writing in ancient Sumer, we cannot yet experience life exactly as another experiences it; we must use words to share our stories. In order to receive each other’s stories clearly, we must practice empathy. From empathy comes solidarity and from solidarity comes community, resistance and change.

Politics is a story. When politicians tell us stories about immigration, immigration wins elections. When politicians tell us stories about hope, hope wins elections. Economics is a story. When economists tell us stories about consumerism, we become consumers. When economists tell us stories about cooperation, we become citizens.

Surveillance is also a story, extracted from us without our permission, and told back to us in ways that change our behaviour. The corporate media tell us stories of fear and tragedy; advertisers tell us stories of luxury and anxiety. We hear thousands of stories every day and it’s hard to know which to believe when those with the most money get to shout their stories loudest.

The Elevate Festival is a festival of storytelling that gives voice to the quiet stories. This book is amplification. I hope you have, within these pages, heard fascinating, shocking and inspirational stories. I hope that, like me, you feel stronger for having heard them and are ready now to act by sharing your story with the rest of us.

We must hold onto our right to share our stories directly with each other; we should not have our stories mediated through third parties who try to control and profit from them. Our stories are not the sum of our data and our stories are not theirs to sell, they are ours to tell.

Whatever your message, whatever your medium, have a creative-response. Share your story because, ultimately, life isn’t about survival; it’s about sharing.

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Thank you for reading – I hope you found something here that was enlightening and inspirational. If you did, let me know!

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This header image is beautiful.