Tech-Friendly: A week without a mobile phone

Paul Gorski
Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

I am stepping a bit beyond my normal “Tech-Friendly” domain here and commenting on a press release and promotion that documents a filmmaker’s experiment to do without his mobile phone for an entire week. That week has passed, and the filmmaker comments on that experience here: http://

For many of us, being without a mobile phone for more than a day or two makes us very uncomfortable. Some people miss the calls, others the text, and some just miss playing “Angry Birds.” I miss the voice calls; I am not interested in games.

People have become so dependent on the instant gratification of a quick phone call, text message or even video chat. The communication devices of science fiction decades ago are commonplace today.

U.S. Cellular and filmmaker Mark Malkoff sponsored the challenge. I have quoted most of the original press release below, removing the sales pitches (sorry, U.S. Cellular). I understand that Jeff Olson, business director of sales in northern Illinois for U.S. Cellular, participated in the challenge. That might be why he did not answer my calls regarding my new iPhones. Just kidding, Jeff, but I do encourage readers to take the U.S. Cellular challenge and put down that phone for a week. Let me know how it goes.

To better understand the challenge, an excerpt from the original U.S. Cellular press release is reprinted below:

CHICAGO — U.S. Cellular is partnering with comedian and filmmaker Mark Malkoff to create the “U.S. Cellular No Phone Challenge,” a social experiment to see what happens when an avid mobile phone user goes an entire week without their device. Malkoff, who is noted for such challenges as living in a furniture store for a week or spending 48 hours handcuffed to his wife, will spend seven days, beginning today, going through his daily routine without being able to use his mobile phone. U.S. Cellular also challenges Americans to spend up to one week without their mobile phone and to share how it affects their routine and personal relationships on Twitter by using the hashtag “#nophone.”

I can’t imagine life without my mobile phone for a week. It’s going to feel so like 1988 (minus the parachute pants). I know I will miss out on sweet text messages from my wife, I will probably get lost around the city, and will hopefully not be late to any meetings, or else I won’t be able to alert anyone,” said Malkoff. “No doubt, I’ll appreciate my mobile phone even more when this is over, and I’ll be even more thankful for daily texts and photos from friends and family as Valentine’s Day rolls around.”

With nearly half of Americans pledging to communicate more often with family and friends in 2014, mobile phones will prove to be essential for those looking to create better moments with those they care about. So essential in fact, that one in five smartphone owners would rather live without food and water than their mobile devices, according to a recent U.S. Cellular survey[1]. The survey found 76 percent of smartphone users would rather live without chocolate, while 69 percent would rather live without caffeine.

It’s easy to take your mobile phone — and all that it does for you — for granted when you are covered by U.S. Cellular,” said Jay Ellison, executive vice president of sales and customer service for U.S. Cellular. “Our customers love their network and don’t have to worry about dropped calls or no network coverage since our high-speed network has the highest call quality of any national carrier. We deliver an unmatched customer experience and know that having an unreliable network, one that doesn’t cover you where you work, live and play, is almost as bad as not having your phone at all.”

Malkoff will share his experiences without a mobile phone on his social media accounts and chronicle all the things he cannot do, such as sharing pictures of his favorite New York sites, checking e-mail while away from the computer or using GPS to find a destination.

I’ve had the opportunity to experience U.S. Cellular’s fast, reliable network and have grown to love how quickly and conveniently I can connect with my friends and family,” said Malkoff. “This experiment in going ‘off the grid’ is going to be quite an adjustment for myself and those close to me.”

¹ Between Nov. 15-Dec. 2, 2013, 500 nationally representative online interviews were conducted among smartphone users in partnership with Martiz Research.

The public can follow Malkoff’s “No Phone Challenge” at,, and

That ends the excerpt from the U.S. Cellular press release.

Paul Gorski ( has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple Iie.

Posted March 18, 2014

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