“…once one is reduced back to fivers and coins, the city feels very different all over again. One moves from a post-pay to a pre-pay world, in which anonymity is won at the expense of convenience, something the government is convinced ‘the public’ don’t want (William Heath has queried this repeatedly). It is a pain in the arse in many respects, but you do also get that bizarre, slightly retro feeling of being able to wander off into a crowd and be anyone you want, like the first time you go to the shops on your own to spend your pocket money. The flaneur, for instance, would surely have to use real pounds and pence (alright, francs and centimes) rather than an Oyster card or Visa. There is something rather wonderful about cash, in that if money talks, then nothing else has to.
Privacy arguments too often revolve around Big Brother vs libertarians, with extreme examples being bandied around by both sides. The ethical experience of privacy – or disconnection from the network – is that of a different type of freedom from the one being offered by the network. It’s the freedom to embrace contingency and inconvenience, rather than the freedom to get what you want. I propose a ‘Leave Your Wallet and Mobile Phone at Home Day’, in which once a year, individuals hit the streets with nothing other than twenty quids worth of low-tech, Victorian cash. Then see what happens.”
I’ve done this a couple of times myself, both intentionally and unintentionally. It makes for a different flow of time, and thoughts than you have when instantly connectable to your bank account or your friends.