I was 18 and fresh out of school when I set out on my first solo trip abroad – 5 months in Venezuela, New Zealand and Fiji. Obviously a complete mix of cultures and ‘development’.
In Venezuela we were mainly living in a small village on the coast called Playa Colorada. Anytime we wanted to call home, use the Internet or just communicate with anyone by means other than face to face conversation we had to get a 45 minute or so bus ride into Barcelona (just thinking of those journeys brings a smile onto my face as I remember the beautiful scenery as the road wove along the coastline whilst the drive was blaring music out of his giant speakers). Here we would go the Internet café to use the super slow computers and yell down the rather dodgy phones at our parents back in the UK. And it was brilliant. No iPhones removing people from conversations, no constant posts on Facebook of our latest escapade, no blogging. Just us. Living in the moment every single day.
Living in paradise
New Zealand was rather different… I had a local phone (which I regularly left on buses) and most hostels had computers to use. Although I still didn’t Skype home in all 5 months home as that was ‘far too complicated’ for parents at the time…! Still, no iPhones, no smartphones, kind of a halfway house I would say! You could communicate with your ‘other world’ when you wanted to but was only an as and when kind of thing.
A little different but still it’s own version of amazing
And then Fiji… Here more communication might have been useful as I got very ill with ‘suspected Typhoid’ (something I am still doubtful of) so that was…fun! We were island hoping so there was nada, but on the mainland there was a phone and (I think) a computer to use where we were staying.
Here I don’t think we even had electricity, let alone wi-fi!
And now? I remember being amazed when I saw my friends posting pictures from far flung places onto Facebook – I believe my reaction was something like ‘OMG you can do THAT now?!’. I admit, I use wi-fi on my iPhone and my laptop everyday. I arrive at a café and I’ll ask for the wi-fi password (she says, sat in a café blogging…). I take pictures and videos and upload them to Facebook or Twitter. I email. I Skype. I iMessage. I WhatsApp. I FaceTime. I blog. It seems like a lot when written down like that, and times have most definitely progressed since those few months in 2010.
Personally, I believe there are pros and cons to this. It is great to be able to easily communicate with home – I want to be able to share my experiences with my friends and family, discuss what I have learned, record my memories, and sort out my plans for my future post Argentina. It is easy to arrange things with other people out here via free wi-fi, which is readily available in Buenos Aires (and the more ‘touristy’ destinations). When planning a trip I can Google reviews online, book flights and find hostels. There is a reason we live in an Internet age – humans are sociable people, it connects us and makes life a whole lot easier.
But what about when it disconnects us? When I am sat in an amazing location with a group of fascinating people and I am messaging someone in the UK? What about when I am watching sea lions swim in the ocean and seeing it through my iPhone as I record this experience? What about when I am at a concert or a show and it is completely dark, bar the glow of people’s phones? What about ‘those moments’ where I feel so calm and at one with where I am, and then my phone pings because somebody’s posted on my Facebook wall? That’s when I get annoyed and want to give myself a big kick.
Internet and technology are there to enhance our lives, they should never get in the way of us living them. Take the time to switch your phone off, put the camera down, ignore your emails and live in the moment. Your moment, right now.
Do you find yourself sometimes needing to consciously disconnect?