Cellphone Non-Users: An Ethnographic Study

85 percent of adult Americans have cellphones, which means 15 percent don't. Who are these mysterious, ringtone-free luddites?

The New York Times is on the case. First, there are "older or less educated Americans or those unable to afford phones," but they're boring and poor, so let's talk about the quirky, disenchanted-with-modern-life ones, instead:

They resent the way that ring tones, tiny keyboards and screens disrupt face-to-face conversation. They savor their moments alone and prize the fact that no one knows how to reach them.

These peculiar beasts are known to cite "luxury" and "freedom." They tend to fall into one of four categories:

1. People who are utterly unimportant, so nobody needs to call them anyway.

2. People who are so incredibly important that the world will bend over backwards to find them when it needs them. It's sort of like how the president wasn't allowed to use e-mail until really recently: Mind-blowingly impractical, and possible solely because he is the president, and he could demand his staff speak in Pig Latin and deliver messages on silver platters if he so chose.

3. People who are total jackasses:

A friend who lives on the top floor of a house in Brooklyn has a perpetually broken apartment buzzer. So Ms. Mboya makes noise to disturb the dogs who live on the first floor, who then bark and announce her arrival to her friend.

4. Highly evolved beings so advanced that they don't even need cellphones—they communicate through telepathy and Skype. This is the category to which NYT-featured cell "refusenik" Gregory Han belongs. He blogs for Apartment Therapy which means not only is his communication system more advanced than yours, his apartment is nicer, too. Oh, to be Gregory Han!