Tech detox travel
‘Holiday’: deriving from Old English, ‘holy day’. Which begs the question, do we in the modern day still hold our non-working days sacred? And if we do, how do we ensure them this status?
Using technology on holiday doesn’t just make achieving these ends difficult, it actively hinders them
The biggest threat to holidays as we once knew them – aside from the grounded planes and multiple visas threatened by Brexit – is technology. Technology is brilliant for keeping us connected to people around the world in seconds; it provides endless information in an instant. But that becomes a plague, not a blessing, when we need a break. Our phones make us available, and that has translated into people expecting us to be available all the time – we now check our phones, on average, every 12 minutes. And that expectation doesn’t change even if we are on the other side of the world, ostensibly ‘to get away’.
Why do we go away? To learn about a new place; to relax; to spend quality time with friends or family; to get away from the daily grind. Using technology on holiday doesn’t just make achieving these ends difficult, it actively hinders them. If, in your first quiet moment, you check your emails, or flick through Instagram, you lose that precious time in which your brain assimilates what it has seen; the time to ponder, wonder and reflect. Your body may be in another country, but your mind is constantly drawn back to home.
Would a physical map, dictionary and torch suffice?
Admittedly, technology can be useful on holiday: it is a translator, a torch, a map, a camera, an encyclopaedia of accommodation, transport and activities, and a way of quelling homesickness if you are travelling alone. And some people will argue, fairly, that the circumstances of their travel require them to carry a phone. But before you go on holiday, consider slowly: do you really need to take your phone with you? Would a physical map, dictionary and torch suffice? Perhaps the novelty in itself will create a holiday to remember. Or, if the phone must be taken, can you be selective in how you use it so that it remains merely a tool, and not the dominant device for leisure?
The effects will be tangible. A recent report by the Royal Society for Public Health finds that four of the five most used social media platforms (Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram) make young people’s feelings of anxiety worse; that social media use is increasingly linked with depression; and that all five of the most used social media platforms (the four previously mentioned and Youtube) not only lead to young people having less sleep, but sleep of worse quality because of the LED lights in phones. Yet in a cruel irony, social media and technology remain addictive.
your holiday really has been just that
Why not treat yourself, and leave all that behind on holiday. It really will be a treat: you will sleep better and more, you won’t have to worry about how your holiday looks to those at home, you might feel more relaxed and confident, and you can fully immerse yourself in this place which you have paid to come visit. Freed of the pressures of technology, you can spend time exclusively with yourself, your thoughts, and your loved ones. Your mind, unanchored, will travel alongside your body.
And then consider the fun of returning home, turning on your phone, and watching the messages flood in. There’s a thrill in seeing them all together, a sign that you haven’t been forgotten. But, now conscious of a world without technology, you can choose to use it on your own terms and not those set by social media. Your addiction has been broken; your holiday really has been just that. Your time spent away has once again become sacred.