Our satellite dish was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm last Saturday, which means we’ve been without Internet access for four days now. At first, it was highly annoying. I missed an online appointment with some friends, I couldn’t read my email or pay my bills using online banking and was unable to update my Facebook status (gasp!). I also couldn’t do the research I wanted to do for my next blog post, and I couldn’t update my blog.
Then it downscaled to a little annoying. “Who’s the author of that book again? Let me Google it quickly. Oh wait, no…” I still can’t read my email at home or work my way through my list of Google Reader blogs, but that’s okay, I can do it from the office. Patience is a virtue.
When I got home yesterday, instead of turning the computer on first thing like I normally do, I never even set foot in the study. In this time that we’ve been disconnected from the world, I’ve managed to finish a book and am well towards halfway with the next one, chores that I’ve been putting off for days (in some cases, weeks) have been done and I even managed to add another 500 or so words to my long-ignored attempt at writing a novel.
What has all this have to do with travelling? Very little, to be honest. Except that when I look at my Twitter feed, there are literally hundreds of daily tweets from a very small group of travellers, who somehow manage to find time to not only tweet every ten minutes or so, but also to read (I assume) hundreds of articles worth tweeting about. Not to mention writing content for their own blogs as well. And update their Facebook pages. And comment on others’ blogs. How do they do it? How on earth do they find the time to do all of this and still travel? Are they actually travelling, or just sitting in front of their laptops admiring the view from the hostel’s swimming pool (or the inside of the Internet café)?
I took my laptop with me on holiday for the first time in November last year. Yes, it definitely came in handy as a means to stay in touch with family on the other side of the world, or for convincing the tour operator via email that it was still possible for me to go on the pre-booked tour even though I needed a visa for Gibraltar and Morocco. But that was it. The rest of the time, the laptop was locked up in the hotel safe, only to be taken out to write a quick update for my blog twice a week (which, frankly, could just as well have waited until I got back home).
I understand that long-term travellers would want to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world and that the Internet is the most convenient way of doing it. But isn’t part of the appeal of travelling to get away from it all and immerse yourself in a foreign country and culture? Do you really need to spend so much time online?
You won’t lose your readers if you don’t update every day, or tweet your every move and thought. Instead, you’ll have time to go out and experience something interesting, to see and do things worth writing about. And it will be quality content for which the rest of us will make the time to read.
What do you think about internet addiction? Do you think you might be?