I love crossing the border. When I was living in Tyrone I loved crossing it for completely different reasons but now, apart for getting together with family and friends, I love going to Mum’s because I have a Delicious Digital Detox. It’s as good as going for a Spa retreat. Okay, there are no massage treatments but the hugs are as good as a back rub and with lots of fresh country lanes for exercise who needs a pool! There is plenty of chat, laughter and good food but what makes all these things heavenly bliss is that there is no network cover (for my phone anyway) and no Wi-Fi!
I can’t believe that I have made hotel choices in the past based solely on the availability of free Wi-Fi. Now? It wouldn’t even figure in my priority list. No PC, no mobile phone, no wifi, email, text, it’s liberating and I can bask in the peace and quiet knowing I will not be summonsed every two minutes. There is comfort in knowing that I will be able to access it, when and if I require it, but if I can’t, there is always Wi-Fi in McDonalds. However just like the Big Mac, one can get a sickener for modern living. In recent years technology has left me behind but now, I’m leaving it behind.
It’s all the interruptions and the expectations to response immediately that concerns me, like this morning when my phone pinged on the table. I glance at the text, hit the on button on the kettle and went to the loo. When I come back my phone was frantically vibrating and I wished I had switched it off rather than putting it on silent. Alas, a mum with kids, I feel the need to have it on so I can be contacted in an emergency but this was not an emergency.
“I’m phoning to check if you got my text?”
“Yes just got it…how are you?”
“Oh…you didn’t text me back. I thought there was something wrong with your phone…”
“I was in the loo…”
‘What do you mean oh?’ I wanted to say. ‘Do folk not use loos anymore? Perhaps, just like the TV ad, there is a new app for that?’ but I didn’t. I said “So how are you?”
“Well I have to go to Derry and I was wondering if you knew where London Street was but you didn’t text back so I thought I would ring and check before I Googled it myself.”
It was my time to say ‘Oh! Why didn’t you do that in the first place?’ But I didn’t, I just asked her how she was for the third time and for the third time she didn’t answer!
Apparently, texting is in decline after being the most popular way to communicate for the best part of twenty years. Web-based messaging services are taking over and perhaps there are folk like me who wants to get back to some old-fashioned communication, opting for a telephone call, a letter or a visit.
There are many benefits to modern technology and folk do seem to have a desperate need to be in touch but there is also the reality that, on an emotional level it’s driving us further apart. It’s good to stay in touch but whether I’m wandering in silence or deep in conversation with family and friends in Tyrone or Donegal I can honestly say I don’t miss Wi-Fi one bit. Communication is good but it needn’t always have to be at the speed that modern technology delivers.