response to 'don't call me'

by chris hanssmann



Dean-

I just had to send you my major approval rating on the cell phone commentary on the make zine site.

You are terribly right on, I hate how this whole cell phone tension between activists turns into a question of aesthetics, annoyance, and necessity. When the bottom line is that it is about, once again, the enormous and glaring question of privilege within the various anti-globalization, anti-capitalist, anti-racist sets. It actually bears an odd similarity to some of the other "privilege" questions that uncomfortably arise amongst the same folks... Including but not limited to the (mis)conception that unlimited mobility to bounce from protest to action to march is "normal," and beyond that, is responsible.

I would also like to add to the argument of "owning a cell phone as participation in the capitalist contract." Firstly, the "free minutes" thing. SO many things about that. First, the creation of the necessity (once again) of USING UP the freeness (and the "freedom") of those "free minutes," such that cell phone owners are then glued to the phone on Saturday and Sunday, cos it something is FREE, you MUST exploit it to its fullest extent, right!? Further, it reinforces the concept that capitalism hinges on: Time is Money. and participation in Free Minutes indicates that you accept the contract that regular, non-free minutes are Purchased Minutes... and Expensive Minutes at that. There are so many ways in which the capitalist contract is compulsory in one way or another, in our situation of living in this nation... why sign on to all its extracurricular pieces as well?

So there's that. Then there's the subtle impact of the cell phone explosion on non- or anti-cell phone users. I don't know what the NYC situation is, but at least in Seattle, I have to walk/bike for BLOCKS to get to a goddamn payphone. There seems to have been a gradual decline over the past number of years, but now there seems to be an absolute dearth of them. Not to mention the price jack-up to \\$.50. Once again, the poor are left to bear the disproportionate cost of services... and once again, the poor end up shelling out money to help accomodate the ones with money in their pockets in their never-ending quest for convenience.

OH, and the fucking ADVERTISING! Particularly, Verizon is guilty of this weird exploitation/appropriation of the concept of "freedom." (which itself is a myth embedded in and establishing a foundation for capitalism). The "People everywhere just wanna be free," jingle, accompanied by that other weird visual appropriation of "Diversity" with a capital D: a farmer on a field, a couple of "punk" kids, abercrombie boys and girls, racially-othered folk, old folk, young folk... recycling this tired idea that in America, you can BE anything and you can DO anything no matter WHO you are (IF you have the money to PAY for your "freedom.") and holding up a "V" with their fingers for "verizon," a terribly cute little riff on the tired Left's happy little peace sign. This implies a larger question, too, in terms of advertising and appropriation/commodification of the "revolution" of the people... which leads me to another conversation about why the concept of "revolution" is never going to get our projects anywhere, anyway... but that is a LONG conversation for a different time. This concept is just getting my mind rolling.

--chris

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