Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Dropping off the radar

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 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!


  1. This is a really interesting post - I tried dropping off the radar to an extent in India. But not the radar of my friends and family in the UK, instead I made myself uncontactable other than by face to face communication vis my friends in India. So literally it was a case of being there when they saw me but not available at all when they didn't. Semi-detachment maybe. I didn't have a mobile they could contact me on, I did not give out my English number used only for emergencies and nor my email address and only used facebook when people were leaving and we wanted to keep in touch. Basically how people used to get by before the world started taking itself and technology too seriously. It was pretty liberating and more than that, a really warm and friendly way of life. Sadly not sustainable in the "real world" but a good little social experiment for five months.

    I think, to a point, that detachment (from society, from material stuff etc) is important as that's the only way people get a firm grip on perspective and what's important in life and what's not. But total detachment would drive me nuts. I'll leave that to Tibetan monks, they do it so much better than I ever could.


  2. Its been ages since your last blog...looking forward to reading the next one about life off the radar xx