Jack White Doesn't Own a Cellphone: "I Don't Have That Addiction"

"If you can't just put your phone down for an hour and experience life in a real way, that's sad"

Photo: David James Swanson

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jun 19, 2019

Having banned listeners from using cellphones at his concerts, it shouldn't come as a shock to learn that Jack White has never owned a mobile device himself. Now, the rock icon has explained his choice to remain unplugged.

Speaking with Channel 4 podcast Ways to Change the World, White said, "For someone like me, who is one of the few who doesn't own a cellphone, it is pretty funny to walk down the street and see everyone doing this," miming a person glued to their screen.

He added, "I've never owned one, so when I'm out there I'm an anomaly and I'm looking at everybody. To me, everybody looks silly. And then you're like, 'Whatever, it's their lives'. Who knows? Maybe this is the way everything is going to be from now on. I have no idea and nobody really does. Maybe it'll turn to implants. Probably it'll turn into a microchip behind our eyeball or whatever."

White likened the addictive nature of the devices to alcoholism, saying, "If you can't choose to stop drinking for a day, it's got that much of a hold on you, that's a sad thing. So the same thing with that, if you can't just put that down for an hour and experience life in a real way, that's sad. And it's maybe even sadder that you had to be told to do it. That you didn't naturally want to do it on your own."

On the subject of his own phone ban, White told Channel 4 that he first approached the idea like "a big art project," initially expecting that many people would demand their money back upon learning of the rule.

"To my surprise, and to everyone else's surprise, everyone loved it," he said. "We've been doing it now for over a year so it's been shocking how much people love it. It brings up these real big questions like, 'So you need someone to tell you that you can't use it to actually not use it?' How sad, that's pretty sad. Again, coming from someone who isn't part of it, it's easy for me to say because I don't have that addiction."

White is set to release a new album alongside his bandmates in the Raconteurs on Friday (June 21), and you can read Exclaim!'s review of Help Us Stranger now. The band will also kick off a North American tour next month in support.

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