When I mentioned my holiday to certain friends, they panicked, ‘I didn’t see it’. They whipped out their phones and scrolled down wondering how they could have possibly missed even one moment of my life. When I patiently explained that I didn’t post about it, they looked at me with deep-rooted suspicion. In their heads, I knew they wanted to ask, ‘Are you okay? Is everything alright?’ but they didn’t, perhaps out of a sliver of politeness that is still left in this intrusive world.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media as much as the next person. I enjoy seeing who has mastered the perfect cheesecake, whose baby just flashed a smile or who voted, the proof being a finger-photograph, smeared with the tell-tale black mark (A cynical friend of mine says that the voter turnout will increase every year as more and more people will want to take photos of their stubby, black-streaked nails). It’s only that sometimes all the images we are assaulted with get a bit much and my eyes need to see things that are not on a screen. My emotions need triggers other than the ones flashing on a timeline, which is why my partner and I consciously embarked on a no-technology holiday.
As the name suggests, it meant we travelled without phones, we didn't check mail and got back to the world of printed tickets and hotel accommodation. My mum wailed in despair, ‘What if there is an emergency?’ It scared me, this ‘what if’ but I was firm. I give her landline numbers, and during the days I would be inaccessible, I decided the emergency would have to manage itself.
On the first day of this tech-free trip, we felt a bit bereft as if we had forgotten to take a part of ourselves. In a few hours, we got used to it. Our fingers discovered the slow pleasure of turning a page as opposed to the manic finger-swipe we were accustomed to. We looked out more, our hands emptied of gadgets could hold each other and our eyes watched everything with intensity, aware that there would be no memory cues later to what we were seeing. I think more than the photos and the recording of what was happening, what we missed most were the online maps but we soon discovered, asking directions in an unknown place is a good way to make friends.
During our travel, time did slow down, and our experiences had the quality of something precious. When the trip was over, the first thing we did on entering our house was to fervently check our social media feeds and emails. Nothing of significance had happened apart from another perfect cheesecake being baked.
We collapsed on the sofa surprised and immediately began posting, tweeting and blogging about how we could all easily live without social media and how wonderful our holiday was without technology.
Still Figuring It Out is a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood that appears every Saturday on Asianet Newsable. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at here. The views expressed here are her own.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:53 PM IST