It is somehow fitting to sit down in he middle of a medieval square in the city of Carcassonne, to write this little piece. Ancient walls of stone surround this fortified village that has seen countless ebbs and flows of war and piece. Plastered on the window of the little cafe where we are the obligatory patrons, in exchange for good but expensive coffee, is the universal WIFI sticker. Its white and grey contrast forming a beacon for all those road warriors parched in the dessert of dis-connectivity. “Come here and quench your raging thirst for information” it seems to call out. I ponder to toggle my “Wifi Settings” to on, but choose not to. I am, as a matter of fact, still on holiday. Holiday (or Vacation) depending on what part of the Anglosphere you sprout from, means being “ away” from you normal routine of life, exchanging it for a temporary relief by alteration of activities, location or both. In my case it is both. Work is left behind and so are the roaming fields of Flanders. After a 11 hour drive we end up in a place we can only refer to as our “second home”. The city of Carcassonne. But even its succeeding circles of reinforcements are no match for the progress of technology.
For a flick of a switch is all I need to make to instantly open up the floodgates of connectivity. All i need to do is “hook up” to the open access point and the entire concept of a vacation can be taken away from me. “I am a citizen of the world” I frequently announce as I recount tales and adventures from the world of cyberspace. I travel without moving and span the globe at the click of a mouse. But that also means .. that the opposite is true. Where I can connect to the world from anywhere .. the world can also connect to me. For a the flick of a switch I am teleported back towards my “everyday life” ( Not actually a location nor a true state of mind ) and the physical and geographical reality that comprises my “vacation” will cease to exist. Connections, emails, communications, messages, thoughts, impressions, queries and troubles … all of them will come flooding back and there is nothing that can stop the evaporation of the ‘sea of tranquility’ that is my state of mind.
Connectivity shrinks your planet down to a mouse click. And that is an awesome feeling. It gives you the power to span the planet with a single wrap of the keyboard .. Ubiquitous connectivity takes away your place to hide. No matter where on the planet you are, your communications and digital interactions are right there with you. Both a blessing and a curse. For if we are always connected we change only the scenery around us as we travel. In the end we are still sitting behind our computer, plugged into the net. Only when we stare up from the screen, we see that the wallpaper called reality .. has changed.
So when I’m on holiday .. I switch off. Sure, I miss my “information drip”. As I stand before a statue or want to know the number of inhabitants in Andorra , my dopamine craving will have to wait a little as “instant information” is not available. But on the other hand .. I can always ask somebody .. Sometimes they even know the answer.
So we have crossed the apex of my personal connectivity. We have gone beyond the threshold of what I can have vs what I really want. For what I really want right now, is to step down from the over-connected platform of my everyday life and enjoy the stone walls of the ancient city. Enjoy talking to my beloved wife, uninterrupted by the next wave of tweets , DM’s, emails and instant messages. For once , the information and communication junkie wants to be deaf, mute and ignorant .. just to be in the know of the beautiful thing around him .. Called reality