By Kyle Peveto, Opinion Editor
I first began to hate cell phones when I was 18 and I read On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
Kerouac roars across the country hitchhiking, busing and borrowing cars with friends and family only guessing where he laid his head. I never planned to follow Kerouac’s exploration of America, but I hoped to live in the spirit of his freedom.
When my parents tried to first buy me a cell phone three years ago, I said, “Would Kerouac or Hemingway have used a cell phone? There’s no romance in cell phones.”
I meant that my freedom would be hindered by people always calling me for almost no reason.
Later, I read an essay in Bike magazine about a man who lived in freedom almost anywhere he wanted. He bought a cell phone only because his best friend was diagnosed with cancer, and when he knew she may die any day, he kept it on and with him at all times. They had their last conversation on a roadside in Alaska while she deteriorated states away.
After reading the story, I knew that separating yourself from the ones who love you and need to hear your voice was freedom. But who wants freedom? Remember Bobby Magee: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Small amounts of freedom are exhilarating and liberating. Setting out on your own for a long weekend alone can refresh a soul like nothing else. Moments alone in quiet often bring about moments of the most intense clarity.
Too much freedom turns into loneliness. The man who spends his life chasing the road wakes up one day longing for a little less freedom, to be bound by someone.
Humans don’t want complete freedom. We want to expand our limits and do what we want with the time we have to ourselves, but at the end of the day we want to see and hear from those who are important to us.
Cellular phones allow us to be tethered to the people who matter at all times. It becomes a long leash.
I now realize that Kerouac and Hemingway, though masters of the written word, were depressed alcoholics incapable of holding onto a healthy relationship. They probably still would not have a cell phone today, but they also wouldn’t have many people wanting to call them.
I bought a cell phone two years ago, and though I still despise the idea of completely tactless, private conversations held in public, I enjoy receiving phone calls from those who really matter to me.