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#MicroblogMondays 133: iPhone or Health Care

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Chaffetz said this week that people will need to choose between getting a new iPhone and health care.  Let’s set aside for a moment that the cost of the two items are not comparable; that health care is a lot more expensive than a phone.  Instead, let’s talk about the fact that we’ve set up a culture where having a phone is as important as having health care.

If you do not have a phone (landline or mobile), it is hard to get a job.  Hard to get a home. Hard to enroll in school.  Many years ago, Josh’s boss wanted him to get a blackberry.  She paid for his cell service because she admitted that it was such a huge ask.  On the other hand, every job I’ve held in the last 5 year has expected me to have a mobile device and to use said mobile device for video meetings and text messages.  It isn’t a question of “do you have…?” but “what is your number?”

We’ve built a mobile expectation into our work culture in the same way that employers expect employees to have access to transportation to get to work on time and an appropriate wardrobe for the work space.

Think for a moment: could you do your job or live your life without a mobile device?


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1. Traci York, Writer 12. Obsessivemom 23. Amber
2. Modern Gypsy 13. Empty Arms, Broken Heart 24. Jenn P
3. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) 14. Anamika The bespectacled mother 25. Chandra Lynn (Pics and Post)
4. Shilpa 15. Charlotte 26. Foxy
5. Mali (A Separate Life) 16. Journeywoman 27. Middle Girl
6. Mali (No Kidding) 17. Parul Thakur 28. Vinitha
7. You can only do a certain number of things Everyday | TaU 18. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled) 29. Mary Francis
8. Lori@ Laughing IS Conceivable 19. Shail 30. An@ mi
9. Isabelle 20. Nonsequiturchica
10. Raven 21. Turia
11. Unpregnant Chicken 22. Missing Noah


1 Beth { 03.13.17 at 6:48 am }

I could. I am a stay at home parent right now. I would need a landline and internet access at home as the school needs to communicate. And I wouldn’t enjoy the feeling of being unreachable when I am away from home because I worry about my daughter needing me during the day – sickness etc. It is interesting, however, to think about because of how out of the loop I feel sometimes simply because I don’t use Facebook and therefore miss some info or get it secondhand. And that’s just fb. No mobile device at all, even to get the odd email or alert? Doable, yes, but complicated.

2 Modern Gypsy { 03.13.17 at 7:05 am }

You’re right, Mel. I’ve never stopped to consider it, but out mobiles have become an extension of us. There was a time when mobiles were really not all that important, but now, they’re a necessity!

3 Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) { 03.13.17 at 7:35 am }

For people that are self-employed (or rely on side gigs, etc.), smart phones are particularly important – as much as landlines and desktop computers in a traditional office.

It would be difficult to do my job without one.

4 a { 03.13.17 at 8:25 am }

I could. My work phone is the number I usually give out anyway. I can’t take work home with me, and for a long time, my mobile phone didn’t work at my house anyway. So when my boss tried to reach me, I’d get a voice mail hours later. But if I were looking for a job, of course I would need a phone. How else would they contact me?

Related:. Chaffetz is incompetent to serve, and he keeps proving it over and over.

5 Traci York { 03.13.17 at 8:47 am }

Hubby & I were just talking about this the other day – he has no choice with his job (but they provide it), but the younger two and I could manage without. The eldest is working on building her social media presence as a beauty vlogger, so for her it’s essential.

6 Vaibhav { 03.13.17 at 9:19 am }

You could, but I mean why would you want to? We’ve built a culture of dependency around mobile phones BECAUSE they make things much more convenient.

At this point, if you live life unplugged, your health and sanity might get better, but everything else might take a dip. Although, I agree that that is an appealing trade-off.

Speaking of the person who spoke about an iPhone vs Health Insurance, did you get a chance to catch John Oliver’s news piece on the American Health Care Act? You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ifi9M7DRazI

7 Lori Shandle-Fox { 03.13.17 at 9:43 am }

I’d sure like to try living without one again. Almost everything my husband and I do on them could be done a different way or not at all. My kids are 10 and have been begging us for phones for over a year. They already have tablets and access to our computers and that to me, is more than enough.

8 Working mom of 2 { 03.13.17 at 9:45 am }

I could do my job but my life would be much more inconvenient.

But for low income/unemployed, a smartphone is often their only computer. I saw a documentary on tv once where people were taking like 3 buses to get to a job interview for some low paying job and they needed their phone to apply, get directions, bus schedule, etc. it was essential.

9 Raven { 03.13.17 at 10:39 am }

It’s awful that a phone is as important as health care…and yet, I can understand it. The world we live in has become quite dependent on cell phones – and my generation and younger even more so. I can still remember what it was like to not talk to my parents for the entire day until they were home from work, and not even considering that anything could wrong. Now, I go the morning without a text from Mr. Big and I start to worry. As nice as it is to have a wealth of information at our fingertips, I can’t help but wonder if it’s creating a generation of people unable to cope with being unconnected, or alone, for any length of time.

10 Ashley { 03.13.17 at 11:12 am }

My job does not require that I have a smart phone, but my boss does use it to communicate office closings, so it comes in handy for that. My life, on the other hand, is a different story. As the parent of a teenager, I need a phone to keep tabs, stay connected, and (to a certain extent) understand my son. I remember when I came home from the Peace Corps, after being out of the loop for nearly 2 years, and blackberry’s were the latest gadget. I was in the airport having some connection issues and a very nice businessman who was my seat partner and new-found friend, gave me his phone to contact my parents and notify them of the delay. He handed it to me and fully expected I would know what to do. I just wanted to make a simple call to a number I had memorized, but I could not for the life of me figure out which button to push to get the thing to dial. I have caught up since then, but that encounter always comes to mind when I think of how reliant I am on technology because there was a time when I wasn’t. Interestingly enough, I bought my very first cell phone when I was in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua so I could talk to my parents and stay semi-connected with my Peace Corps friends. The phone didn’t work in my house, I would have to climb a mountain (literally) to get a signal. It was a simpler time for me, but also hard because when I came home I really felt lost for a while. Technology is certainly a double-edged sword….

11 Obsessivemom { 03.13.17 at 12:13 pm }

Nope I cannot live without my phone only because it is my connect with the people I love. If, however, the children and my parents are near me I’m happy without it.

12 Ana { 03.13.17 at 12:51 pm }

If you don’t have a working phone, you can’t be reached. You are then “unreliable” and can’t get a job, you are biased against by your healthcare providers anyways, you can’t look up directions and wind up late and again “unreliable”. Its eye-opening to think about.

13 Sharon { 03.13.17 at 1:02 pm }

I could do my job 85% of the time without a mobile phone, but my employer requires me to have one anyway (and partially subsidizes its cost) for the other 15%. My life would be MUCH more difficult without a mobile phone, for a variety of reasons. At present, we don’t even have a landline anymore because we found that we rarely/never used it.

14 Anamika Agnihotri { 03.13.17 at 1:10 pm }

This is an interesting piece to think about. The phones have really become a necessity for us. Not the whole life, but I can spend a day or two without my phone.

15 nonsequiturchica { 03.13.17 at 1:23 pm }

Most of my job is sans a mobile phone but my employer gives me a work iphone so that they can get in touch with me if there was an emergency. I agree with a pp- often times a smartphone is the only computer a low income household has so choosing whether you have a phone or healthcare is not even an option (not to mention the phone is much much less expensive).

16 Charlotte { 03.13.17 at 1:36 pm }

So I have a lot of thoughts on this. I can understand what he was trying to say, though I agree he said it poorly. Unfortunately I work first hand with a part of society who spends what money they do have on things that aren’t required to live and expect that someone else will take care of the rest for them. I’m talking about the people who don’t have a pot to piss in but somehow have the latest iPhone and Xbox and 75″ TVs and also manage to drive brand new higher end vehicles, but live off the government for all basic needs. I deal with and see this al the time, and it is a real issue. Obama made the same type of reference as this guy, but it wasn’t received in the same way, big surprise.
I could do my job without a cell phone. I also could do my life without one, it just makes mine more convenient. And also, I can afford it after I have taken care of all my other bills and fed my family, and paid my health insurance with money I earned.
There is a big difference between living the life you WANT to live bs living the life you an afford to live. Everyone of us has to make a choice everyday. Would I love to be able to shop at Whole Foods and Nordstroms and have a maid? Absolutely. But I don’t get to do those things and then expect to get food stamps and free healthcare because I spent all my money on other stuff.

17 Journeywoman { 03.13.17 at 1:49 pm }

With them it is kind of the same thing.
If you give up your phone then you’re “too lazy ” to work and just want “handouts.”
If you keep your phone then you don’t “really” want health care because you’re hanging onto a “luxury.”

They miss the point that health care is a right not a privilege.

18 Parul { 03.13.17 at 2:05 pm }

That’s a real good question. I would like to think I can and it’s possible. How ever I can’t be the only one without a phone. That can’t work. Someone has to call me to reach – a mail wouldn’t work. So for all practical purposes, I need a phone but do I need an iPhone 7 or can I do with a simple Nokia 3310 😉

19 Charlotte { 03.13.17 at 2:20 pm }

I want to add that I have been on the side of not having health coverage/having poor health coverage/and being turned down for health coverage. Currently about half my pay goes towards my health insurance, and I work for a hospital. Until the US can figure out how to fix our broken healthcare system (and while ObamaCare was a start and had some very good points, it was far from perfect.) people are going to have to make these difficult choices. It sucks.

20 Turia { 03.13.17 at 3:32 pm }

I have seen the same criticism made of refugees- that they supposedly have “nothing” and yet they have smartphones. But those phones might be their camera, their link to their families, their means of getting across a border, etc. It’s easy to demonize the phone as a luxury without taking a hard look at how society is evolving to require it.

Also, as a Canadian, the idea that someone should even have to make the decision to have health insurance just boggles my mind.

21 Jenn P { 03.13.17 at 5:06 pm }

I source, list, and sell used books on amazon with the help of my phone. I have a cheap samsung through MetroPCS for $30 a month. I couldn’t do my job without my smart phone, though I’d love to not have one some days. I love that I closed my facebook, though it also seems necessary in this age. Another note, I am poor and get food and medical assistance. My state has a program for free or very cheap phones for people who get assistance so they can apply for jobs and be reachable by doctors or for benefit verification, etc. I have heard there are some states that offer smart phones through these programs. Smart phones are becoming more essential to take part in our society, just as having home internet access is (school reports, medical portals, locating necessary information…).

22 Amber { 03.13.17 at 5:09 pm }

I hate how smart phones have become such a necessity and way of life, and yet I here I am, spending way too much time on it all the time. When I was in high school (way too many years ago), I used a pay phone to call my family to come pick me up. However, I never used it to actually TALK to them. I just clicked 3 times and that was the signal that I was ready to be picked up. 15 minutes later, I had a ride home. It didn’t even cost me a quarter to use the pay phone. Now we pay an arm and a leg for mobile devices and the service.

23 GeekChic { 03.13.17 at 6:29 pm }

I can and do live my life and do my job without a mobile device. I have never owned a cell phone.

Work provided me with one for a few years but they don’t any more and I only used it for work purposes. Many years before that I did carry a work pager since I was on-call but that isn’t quite that same thing.

Now – I do have a land line and home internet and I do not have children so those things definitely influence my decision.

Why no mobile? Too expensive for what it offers and I simply don’t feel the need. I do look at plan prices in my area every so often to see if they have come down enough to make it worth it to me. So far they never have.

24 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.13.17 at 8:48 pm }

There are so many reasons it would be hard to live without my mobile device. I mean, it’s low on Maslow’s hierarchy on what I NEED, but dang, it’s so much more than a phone or even a web-connected device. It’s my calendar/organizer (I used to carry a Franklin Planner), it’s my recipe binder and grocery list, it’s my keeper of records (Evernote), it’s my rolodex, my photo album and my camera. And other stuff.

It would be hard to part with all that and go back to all the other bulky tools.

25 Chandra Lynn { 03.13.17 at 11:00 pm }

Absolutely need my phone. I’m a prof and students can reach me via chat without my having to share their phone numbers. I can also access resources, gradebooks, etc. easily.

26 Foxy { 03.13.17 at 11:17 pm }

I love my mini-computer (aka phone). I suppose I could do my job without it, but I would be confined to a desk much more, instead of being out in the community doing my job while also being available for calls.

I also appreciate the chance to get off the grid completely – away from phones (cell or landlines), wifi, tv, etc every so often. I am lucky that I have a place to escape to recharge and regroup every few months without technology.

27 Middle Girl { 03.13.17 at 11:30 pm }

I don’t need my phone for work, but supervisors and of course, the owner would feel handcuffed without them. I could probably manage in my personal life without a mobile device but would have to have something. It hasn’t been all that long ago that I dumped the land line for the exclusive use of mobile.

28 Mali { 03.14.17 at 3:33 am }

I love my phone, but yes, I could live and work without it. I work from home and with a landline and Internet access, I could continue to service my clients. I’d rather not though!

29 Click { 03.15.17 at 4:51 pm }

After we moved into our current house we forego an internet connection and landline because we just didn’t have any money in our budget for it. We had basic mobile phones and we went without ‘proper’ TV as well (no TV license and no Sky/Freeview).

After a little while not having broadband became a bit of an issue. I was having to use the ‘internet cafe’ computer at work or go to my in-laws to do things like online banking. I was also studying through the Open University as well which made research and submitting assignments a problem too.

We opted to get Smart Phones because that gave us internet access outside of the house as well as inside. The internet coverage was pretty crap in the house so it wasn’t like we were spending all our free time surfing the web.

It was only last year, after cutting back on our mobile phone data coverage and finding a really good deal for getting a phone line set up in the house, that we finally were able to earmark the funds for having broadband. That took us five years to get to that point.

And we still don’t have ‘proper’ TV. Maybe in another five years the budget will allow for that!

I think politicians should be paid a living wage to see how the average person really lives. Perhaps then they would do it for the sake of helping people rather than judging them from their ivory towers.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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