If you ever grumble about the quality of mobile phone signals where you live, a trip to the Pembrokeshire coastline will give you a new appreciation and sense of perspective of modern communications technology.
I recently accompanied a school party on a week-long residential trip to an adventure park there. In that beautiful rural setting, the only way I could get reception on my mobile was by standing at the top of the mountain-biking course, holding my phone aloft. Semaphore signals would have been more effective.
Feeling conspicuous, I eventually gave up and took an enforced week-long holiday from the internet. The closest I came to tweeting all week was when I chased a seagull that had snatched a child’s bag of sweets on the beach.
To be cut off from the world-wide web was a culture shock at first. Used to accessing the global village 24/7 on my smartphone, I suddenly found my social network limited to those within shouting distance.
So was I relieved when my phone buzzed back into life on the coach journey home? To my surprise, I was not. I realised I’d actually enjoyed going cold turkey. For several days after I got home, I barely glanced at my PC or my mobile.
I felt the same as I do when we have a power cut midwinter – initial annoyance, followed by the simple pleasure of spending an evening by candlelight. Knowing that the crisis won’t last renders the experience liberating rather than scary, especially as I always keep a few candles where I can find them in the dark.
And now I realise I’d overlooked an easy solution: next time, I’ll just pack a couple of semaphore flags. Problem solved!
(This post was originally written for the August 2013 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News)
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read more of my thoughts on mobile phones (that’s cellphones to you, my American friends!)