By Séamus Smyth

The grand finale of my first semester of 2011 will signify a number of personal conquests: one-quarter of my career at SAIT complete, a successful transition from Edmonton to Calgary, but most impressive is that I will have existed a near four months without a cellular telephone.

No, I am not an extra-terrestrial allergic to advanced human technology.  At my last self-diagnosis, I ranked relatively sane.  But, how you cry, it is possible for a college-attending male to live on this earth without a Blackberry, iPhone, Android etc., collectively known as the most recent addition to the human anatomy?

Well due to the ubiquitous use of the wireless phone, land line phones are cheaper than a Matt Cooke body check.  My room came automatically equipped with one of these outdated devices, providing me with a one and only source of communication to the outside portal.

Now I’d be a monkey’s uncle if I said there was not some transitioning that I had to undergo.  Applying for a job and explaining to my potential employer that my hips and lips are void of a phone is the equivalent of arriving to the interview smelling like whiskey and wearing underpants over my jeans.   Also noteworthy was that the motion of constantly having my head facing downward like an ostrich in the sand, texting at warped speed, is no longer possible. My head is now positioned at its normal viewing angle and I can no longer engage with my friends in meaningless, coded, rhetoric.

When I march to class, I have no choice but to make eye contact with fellow students and read the advertisements posted up on the bulletin board instead of checking my phone for random flames sending me random messages.

When I operate a vehicle, I have to obey Bill 16 rather than glimpse into my windshield whenever is convenient to ensure I am not about to cause a car pileup to wreak havoc from Calgary to Yellowknife.

The worst part of not having a block of plastic vibrating in my denim at all hours of the day is that when a classmate wants to have a conversation, I can’t perform everyone’s favourite faux-balancing act of texting and half-conversing simultaneously.  I am actually forced to put my technical listening skills to use and focus on the subject at hand. It actually makes me nauseous when I become aware that what they are stating is actually quite interesting.

But nothing compares to the piercing rings of pain that rush through my cell-less soul when I have no choice but to talk to someone back home in “Oil City.” Without my ol’ Berry, I can’t just fire off an indifferent, emotionless text.  No, no I need to pick up the receiver, dial what is beginning to feel like 8,940 digits and wait for the recipient to utter “Hello.” An in-depth conversation filled with genuine laughter, concern and real-life dialogue follows.  Yes, a semester without a cellphone has clearly altered my relationships; for the better? You decide.