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Life Without a Laptop, Week 1

When the iPhone came out this summer, I was locked into a contract with another cell phone carrier, one that I couldn't escape on pain of a $200 surcharge. So I waited it out, and dreamed my little iPhone dreams all alone with my Plain Jane cell phone and suddenly archaic-looking iPod Video.

To be honest, I didn't really need an iPhone. I work from home, rarely more than a few yards from a computer (we had two laptops and a Mini in our house at the time). I don't travel for work, and when we go on vacation, I never bring work with me anyway. When I do leave the house for extended periods of time during the day, running errands, taking appointments, etc, it doesn't matter because I'd trained myself to plan ahead for that situation. Besides, I never get any messages that can't wait a couple hours until I get back to a computer anyway.

I was amazingly good at rationalizing away my need for an iPhone, but I still wanted one ever so badly. So last week I created a way out.

I applied the same reasoning about my working environment that I'd used to wish away my iPhone lust and applied it to my laptop. I didn't need it exactly; I did all my real work on the desktop in my home office, and that MacBook Pro was strictly a sitting on the couch and dicking around on the internet while I watch TV machine, quite a waste really. So I decided I could live without it, hocked it on eBay, and used the proceeds to buy an iPhone and pay that cell contract ransom.

It was the worst kind of materialism, I know. When I walked out of the Apple Store that day, I felt a little bit dirty, like a junkie who just pawned his mother's wedding ring to score. But I'm proud of myself for practicing a little budget restraint--I actually made money on the whole transaction--and for once I didn't simply add to the gadget pile, I swapped out the old for the new.

As for the adjustment to life without a laptop, it's going slowly but surely. The iPhone obviously fills that sitting on the couch, watching TV void, though sometimes I still feel a lingering ghost pain burning on my thighs when I want Google a bit actor on CSI. My work hasn't suffered one bit though, because now I know that my already limited time in front of a proper computer is even more precious. Addition by subtraction, I say.

I'm sure I'll give in to laptop envy again at some point, say, if Apple starts making that coveted sub-notebook, or when my son goes off to school and I have more freedom to move around. But for now this has been a useful experiment, and a heckuva way to justify an early Christmas present.

About wood.tang

wood.tang's picture


Matt Wood is a writer, former IT drone, sometime realtor, and full-time stay-at-home dad. He and his family live in Chicago.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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