Spending a summer in Europe you can expect a few things, a good tan, sore feet from all the walking and shopping and to return home being a little heavier no thanks to the fabulous food. One thing I didn't expect, how much I would enjoy my digital diet.
Having data roaming switched off on my phone, meant it performed a little better than our phones did in the 90s. No internet access (unless at the hotel), no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. Most apps provided little if any help, and if you think this isn't hard, I urge you to try it, even for a week!
Though I thought my digital experience was being hindered, it wasn't until a week into it, somewhere in the south of Spain when I let go. I unequivocally accepted that there was no good reason I actually needed the internet. Not only was my digital experience not being hindered, but it was being enhanced!
Late every evening we'd return to the hotel - if wifi was available - I would get my digest of social media, footy scores, news and current events from back home; I would even occasionally sneak a peek at the TV guide at home, to see if anything was worth recording. Basically, I would spend 10-15 mins enjoying the internet at its best. It felt great knowing that our time together would be short and sweet and on some days, non-existent.
There were no scenarios where someone in the group could ruin a perfectly good argument/discussion by saying 'You're wrong (I think), Google it!', which I hate; no one rudely on Facebook while you were talking to them; no one 'checking-in' to the restaurant; it was simple and we all loved it.
So after returning home I thought, how great was that! How could I use this experience to curb my enthusiasm for the digital world and use it more as a privilege as opposed to a human right.
So, from the day I returned, here are a few things I changed and have never looked back:
- if in a conversation/meeting, never reach for your device unless it is relevant to do so, or without excusing yourself
- do not respond to an email while driving, you never get a chance to proof read it and a good response is better than a quick response in most scenarios (plus it's dangerous!)
- limit your use of the internet to designated periods of time, preferably when you are not with friends and/or family (obviously at/for work is different)
- don't trade time with loved ones for Facebook et al
- don't use your device as a morning alarm, buy a $5 alarm clock instead
- purposely 'forget' your phone/device at home every now and again, it's liberating once you actually let go
- switch your phone OFF at night, it'll do it and you good
- if you use your device in the toilet, be sure to wipe it with a little sanitiser once you're done (16% of mobile phone users have traces of fecal matter on them*)
- don't judge someone based on the phone, tablet or laptop they have
- mute your phone or have it set to vibrate when at work
- finally, under no circumstances are you to attempt to prove someone wrong by 'Googeling it'!
MOBILE DEVICES AND INTERNET ARE A PRIVILEGE NOT A RIGHT. IF YOU DON'T HAVE SERVICE FOR A LITTLE WHILE, YOU'LL LIVE!
* Phone etiquette study conducted by the Online College http://www.onlinecollege.org/