This winter I have been lucky enough to spend significant times away from my home in Cornwall (UK) to go warm weather training in Lanzarote (Canary Islands).
Initially because of my frequency of visits, one of my primary tasks was to ensure some form of consistent connection to the outside world in order to keep the “mechanics” of my business continuing, whilst I got on with the task of Ironman Training.
The purchase of a Mifi on the Three network has given me international roaming included as part of my regular packaged minutes and has pretty much solved this problem, I can tether my MacBook, iPad and iPhone as if they were on a regular wifi connection my home back in the UK. It also means that I’m no longer at the mercy of the flakey internet connections of the local bars and restaurants.
However, I have come to question “Just how connected do I really need to be?”.
As I run along the main strip of Puerto del Carmen, I see entire families walking along looking down into the palms of their hands checking their emails or social network status updates, whilst the glorious scenery and back drop of the Playa Grande largely passes them by. Then, when they haul up at one of the bars on the sea front the same happens again, they do not interact with each other, let alone those around them and you can see the waitress feels a little embarrassed as she interrupts them to ask for their drinks order.
Whilst I am just a guilty of this as the families on their week long holidays in the sun, my “life journey” in Lanzarote is to normalise the time here and get to know people. The “nervous twitch” of checking my phone or constantly reaching for it as some form of child’s comforter pretty much cuts me off from interacting and getting to know real people of the island and finding out what it really has to offer.
So often I have found that I interact best with the real world when my phones battery has died, I will then ask the waitress where the local laundrette is and get a sensible answer not 20 Google results that are largely out of date and take an age to sift through.
Taking this a step further how effective can I really be at dealing with emails and client calls whilst I’m in the middle of the Lava fields or in the car driving from A to B? What generally happens is that I look at the email and then think “Arr I can’t answer that now, I’ll do it later”, then it’s a read item in my inbox and never gets looked at again for at least two days. Similarly with taking calls, at what point other than when I’m sat at my desk at home am I really able to effectively take a client call and interact in a sensible coherent manner? For a start the device that I’m talking to the client on is also the device that has my calendar and appointment schedule on, and does the client really feel that valued when my mind is not necessarily on their sports injury or back problem but is in actual fact more focused on the lunch time meet up I’m having with a friend.
The social media element of smartphone culture is also a crazy addiction that I’m gradually weaning myself off of, My feeds are largely broadcast only these days and I rarely trawl through the acres of advertising and people winging on about their first world problems or banal chatter that to be honest really have no bearing on my life. All that happens is that my head gets filled with detritus and not quality content. Don’t get me wrong social media does have its place but perhaps more on a basis of sitting down for a hour a week and purposefully doing a virtual catch up with the people you really want to stay in contact with.
The bottom line is that there is actually very little in my life that really can’t wait an hour or two in order for me to deal with it later in a better fashion, and perhaps instead of obsessing about the social media update of people I barely know its time to actually focus on socialising with real people that would be good know.
The social experiment starts ……