I often feel tied to my laptop. I´m not sure when I started checking my e-mails two or three times a day, and when it became seemingly imperative to do so, yet rarely a day goes by when I don´t. Though free from mobile internet access (using a reliable if slightly antique Nokia handset) I still instinctively switch on my laptop every morning.
When I was living in Spain, the need to be connected was clear - frequent facebook perusals, daily e-mail checks and skype chats staved off pangs of homesickness. However, now back in the UK, it is harder for me to justify - particularly as I´m unemployed and thus free (thankfully) from the barage of work e-mails that greets most of my friends every morning.
I suppose that in the age of blackberries and iphones, romantic notions about being completely disconnected - of “dropping off the radar” - are unrealistic. Even so, I often ask myself why I log onto my laptop every morning. To confirm that my job applications remain unanswered? To delete the circulars from vouchercodes.com? To gossip needlessly with a friend who I´m meeting that evening?
Returning to Spain for a month today, this time to walk the Camino de Santiago (a route that runs from one side of Spain to the other) I´m anticipating that disconnecting will be easier – mainly because it will be largely enforced: I´m not taking a phone charger (minimalist packing given added inccentive by the prospect of having to carry everything I take) and doubt that the church halls where I´ll be staying and the sleepy pueblos that I pass through will have internet.
However, as much as I´m looking forward to being lost and unreachable for a month, and plan to embrace “dropping off the radar”, I predict, perhaps pessimistically, that within a week of walking I will have rang, texted or e-mailed my family. I´ll tell myself that it is simply to reassure them that I have arrived and am surviving, but I know deep-down that I´m expecting a reply and will be disappointed not to get one.
Perhaps I´m not cut-out for detachment... Only time will tell!