From Sharpy's essay:
I've just spent a weekend camping in a field above a beach in the far northern reaches of the east coast of England. It's an area rich in castles and the ghosts of battles past. You can almost smell the history. What you can't smell, as it's pretty much impossible, is a mobile signal.
The area is known, even though it is an extremely popular tourist destination, to be a mobile black hole. You're lucky to get one bar of signal with the phone aligned with the moon and stars at the precise bearing to receive the faintest of signals...
From that point on, I chucked it into the deepest recesses of my van and thought nothing more of it. Twitter would go untweeted. The Instagram massive would not be witness to my frolics. Emails wouldn't get read and Facebook, a service I'm decidedly out of love with, would be generally ignored as usual.
The lack of signal made me smile. The lack of phone masts and Luddite connectivity was a bonus. I love being off the grid. It happens so rarely these days that you need to embrace those times with both arms. It was even more special as lots of people were coming out to play at the Red Bull Break 5 event. So there was going to be lots of people and they had no recourse with their phones. They would have to be real life social not online social....
....The recent trips I've done, mainly with junior surfers, have been mind-blowingly dull as every evening it's computer club. No cards, no banter, no adventures, just 'have you seen what so-and-so has posted on their page'. Which is so wrong it ain't even funny...
[We need to] ...Educate the youth as to how it's supposed to be.
Here's some ideas:
- Catch up on emails, check Twitter, whack up your Insty pics and get creepy on FB in one hit. Just do an hour after the morning session when you're unwinding and recovering and not up for any adventures.
- This one should apply at all times: no phones at meals. It's just plain frigging rude to be checking your phone when out for a meal with your mates, even more so when courtin'.
- Turn off the WiFi on your device in the evenings. Leave it in the room. Be real world social not online social. Make a point of doing something, anything rather than sitting around staring at the Interweb. Even if it is something medieval like reading a book.
- Bring cards. Play Shithead, learn poker, hell play anything to engage with people. If you want to involve drinking penalties or hard cash bets then you're night will get exponentially funner.
- Explore the outside. That's right. You can move away from the Internet connection and explore your surroundings. Without checking in anywhere on Foursquare.
- Don't be a social media zombie. Life is passing you by while you stare at a tiny screen. All the more horrifying when you have paid good money to go somewhere amazing and exotic.
- Just look at stuff. Record it in your head. You don't need to take an Instagram photo of everything. Your memories are yours and it's best to have seen things with your own eyes rather than on an LCD screen.
Of course the Interweb and social media are not going anywhere. Its tentacles are wrapped around modern life so tightly we have no choice but to deal with it. But we can use them as the tools they are meant to be. Entertainment, sharing and connectivity at the right time in the right place.
Well said. There are times when staying instantly in touch with the world is a great thing - and time's when it's healthy to have time out too...
The photo and video capture idea struck a chord with me in particular. So I'm somewhere special with my family and I have two options. Do I keep my phone out at all times and capture everything for posterity? I won't be enjoying the moment quite as much but I will be able to relive it in a way, forever after. Or do I leave my phone in my pocket and enjoy maximum engagement with my family and the venue?
It's a tricky decision and one in which I always compromise. I grab some video and photos so that there's at least proof of what went on, and then I try to resist for much of the rest of the time. After all, there's rarely time enough in the day to watch every holiday movie or look at every photo ("Here's my wife at Dunster, here's another one of my wife at Dunster... and here's another of her from a slightly different angle...", and so on), so there's no point in creating masses of media - just snap a few photos as proof and to jog your own memory at a later date and be done.
Comments welcome - how much do you live in the moment? Or do you live through your phone camera viewfinder and your Twitter stream?