This is just a quick post to strongly recommend taking a break from online activity when taking a vacation. Recently I went through email exchanges of 10 years ago, where I was describing to my family about a Tuscan holiday I had taken with a good friend, some weeks after the holiday. I realised that it took me some time to write to them because there was no internet connection in our villa and no internet cafe in the nearest village. Somehow, despite all the time that has passed, I vividly remember unexpected crevices of that vacation, like the scenic train ride from Geneva to Florence, the exact conversations I had with my friend by the pool or in the villa’s patio, the taste of olive oil in our fettuccini pasta, our long drive in an electric car to beautiful Porto Santa Stefano, buying turquoise bangles at the harbour.. I could list on and on these really random details. And the best part? Not a single photo was taken or shared of any of these described minutiae. My memory of Tuscany 2009 boils down to this one faded photo of a villa in our hamlet and everything else lives in the mind.
Hence, for a few days on our last summer break, I made a point to avoid engaging online or even taking photographs on my phone. This was because I wanted to get back to life pre-2015 (my benchmark of when I didn’t own a smartphone) and enjoy the moment for what it was – a real life. Months later and I still remember those two days as being tinged with a magical filter, and it’s obvious why.
Staying in the moment
It goes without saying that not needing to capture the moment allows you to live in the moment. We swam by the rocks in the open sea and watched the sunset without reaching for any gadget or device to record this beauty and it allowed us to fully sink in the beauty. And true enough, despite not having captured the incredible aesthetics of this divine moment, it is the one evening of this holiday which stays the strongest in my mind. I can still feel the salty water on my tongue, and remember the blazing orange of the sun, the pink skies, crying seagulls, rapid slither of lizards on the rocks. Somehow I remember it more viscerally than the other days which have been preserved as photos and videos.
We went down the same path the following night this time with our phones and it took me twice as long because of all the unnecessary photos snapped on the phone, half of which I later spent days deleting as it was repetitive and unnecessary. It just seems so convenient, your phone is in your pocket, you pass a beautiful door, you pause, fish your phone out of your pocket, aim and snap. But is it necessary? Why do we allow these gadgets to make us so greedy and fill our lives with a surplus. Additionally, another virtue of traveling without smartphones is how it relieves you from the anxiety of loss – no constant worrying about where we kept our phones, or that our phones might get wet or stolen.
The thing about not wanting to completely switch off is the desire to check on the wellbeing of the family at home, work emails and browse the internet to find out more about our current destination. My suggestion for those who have similar concerns is to bring your laptop instead of your smartphone to check into once a day for work-related emails and directions to famous landmarks, a non-smartphone mobile to text loved ones and remain available for their calls, and a proper camera for truly exceptional scenes (not every random alleyway or door). For the braver amongst us, keep the laptop at home and bring the pre-historic phone and camera. Let’s make sure that the little downtime we save up for gets properly and privately celebrated with our entire presence and who knows, we may still remember it in every exquisite detail a decade later.
Found this on Twitter and could not agree more….