Which local leader doesn’t own a cell phone? – Opelousas Daily World
Itâs difficult these days to find somebody who doesnât own a cell phone.
Sure, Grandma and the Amish survive just fine sans cell, but these folks are few and far between. Thatâs why when I learned that one of Acadianaâs busiest and most popular personalities has never owned a cell phone, I had to find out why.
Bob Carriker calls himself the godfather of boudin, or Dr. Boudin, if you will.
A native of Washington state, Carriker, 48, serves as the head of the University of Louisiana at Lafayetteâs Department of History, Geography and Philosophy. He takes students on trip across the country and across the world.
Carriker founded downtown Lafayetteâs Boudin Cook-Off. Heâs the man behind local food rating websites boudinlink.com, cracklintrail.com and kingcaker.com. He designed his own smartphone app.
And heâs doing all of it without owning a smartphone. He also doesnât have a tablet with a data plan.
âLetâs just put it this way,â Carriker says. âI have a fairly hefty fireworks and knife bill. You have to decide where to spend your extra income. So for me, itâs on fireworks and knives. And funny hats. I like funny hats.â
Itâs true. Carriker wears a boudin hat to his cook-off event each year.
Throughout our conversation, Carriker jokes about his cell phone-free lifestyle:
â¢ âI got stuck in this notion that beepers were for drug dealers, and I want nothing to do with that. And that basically has held me through 2015. Iâm very judgmental like that. I look around and assume that everybody who pulls out a cell phone is looking to make a crystal meth deal.â
â¢ âI happen to know that thereâs a payphone â and thereâs no reason for me to know this except that I happen to go by there every now and then â but thereâs one at the Chevron near campus. Iâll stop by to get gas or a drink now and then. And I happened to notice they have a payphone there… The payphone is located between home and work in that quarter mile I travel every day, so in the odd event that I all of a sudden need to make a phone call in that quarter mile, Iâm covered. Thereâs a payphone.â
â¢ âWe have a local support group, those of us who donât have cell phones. We meet at Quiznoâs the third Thursday of every month at noon. Usually, itâs just me sitting alone eating a toasted sandwich. Where is everybody else? I sent out a text â Oh, wait, no, I didnât.â
According to the Pew Research Center Internet Project Survey, 97 percent of Americans between the age of 30 and 49 owned a cell phone in 2014.
Carrikerâs decision to live without a cell phone is about more than the expense.
âIâm a minimalist person in many, many respects,â he says. âI just donât want to be constantly connected to it. I also have definitely gotten to the point to where I donât want everybody to expect me to be connected all the time.
âNow, I expect you to be connected all the time. I expect my colleagues to be connected all the time. I expect when I send you an email that you got it right then. Of course, thatâs not necessarily true, but thatâs the mindset.â
And Carriker certainly isnât disconnected from the technology that grips the everyday American.
He checks multiple email accounts when he wakes up. He just does so from a computer instead of from a smartphone screen illuminated in bed.
He responds to social media and email messages almost immediately from his home and work computers.
He has a tablet with WiFi access so he can see his app and the mobile versions of his websites.
âIâm not really making a statement by not owning a cell phone,â Carriker says. âSome people think that itâs a statement. And itâs not. Itâs just not something that I have come to need. How many people hear that I donât have a cell phone and say, âOh, I wish!â Most people say they wish they could get rid of their cell phone.â
Although Carriker says he has not come to need a cell phone yet, he does acknowledge that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to survive without one.
Itâs not so much about making calls. Itâs easy to borrow a phone if thereâs an actually emergency.
Itâs more about living in a world where itâs understood that everybody owns a cell phone.
While at a conference for work last year, Carriker needed to sign up for Uber, a private taxi service, to navigate Nashville. Uber requires a text message confirmation for new accounts, however. Carriker was able to use Uber, but he first had to borrow a colleagueâs cell phone to do so.
While navigating through airports, Carriker has arrived at more than one deserted gate only to learn that everybody else on his flight had received a text message alert with the new gate information.
âItâs moments like that that make you say, âHuh, I wonder how much longer I can go on without a cell phone,ââ Carriker says.
Carriker hasnât abstained from cell phones completely. He has purchased and activated two over the years.
Both occasions were for trips he took with students. After one trip, he actually threw the cell phone out of the window on the drive home. The other phone is deactivated in his desk.
Carrikerâs wife finally succumbed to the pressures of society and purchased a smartphone last year. Neither of their children, 9 and 10, own a cell phone.
Through the years, Carriker has watched his students go from engaging with one another between classes to engaging with their smartphones.
âItâs become sad to see so many people in the same space but so disconnected and unaware of the actual other human beings around them,â Carriker says. âEverybody sees it. Itâs clearly just become an everyday omnipresent device in every situation.â
Carriker understands the value of the cell phone. But he also values not owning a cell phone.
Heâs never the guy in church or a movie theater whose cell phone rings at the wrong moment. He wonât be the guy to drive into the back of somebodyâs car because of a text message. Heâs able to spend more time and money on things he truly values.
âSeriously,â Carriker says, âif I had to put those thousands of dollars a year into a cell phone contract and not into Roman candles, my life would be far less interesting.â