...it's the 11th of the 1st, 2011 tomorrow. 11/1/11. It must be an auspicious date of some sort and if not auspicious, then spookily dangerous with numbers like that. I could google it but I've googled so much lately I can't bear to.
My googling habit got out of hand over the Christmas break. I can't remember how many times I googled 'turkey leftover sprouts' or 'ultimate roast potatoes' or 'what to do with sprouts' or 'weather, Swindon'. One of my favourite new year past-times (in a spirit of frugality) is to google random contents of the cupboard, fridge or freezer and see which recipes turn up. I discovered chicken, chickpea and chorizo stew recently which I have to say was rather good.
I'm considering introducing an 'incommunicado day' each month where I will leave my mobile, email, ipad and laptop untouched for a full 24 hours. Much as I appreciate (and love) to have almost everything at my fingertips and available online, I would quite like to experience that feeling of being away that we had a few years ago when if we left the office or home we just mentioned that we'd be back in a couple of hours and, well, went. No-one could ask us something that could quite happily wait a couple of hours. If I was on Facebook I think I would start a campaign, inviting people to join me on a 'switch off' day. Imagine if we all switched off, if Twitter was tweetless and Facebook had no pokes or whatever it has. What a day that would be.
I think of my nephew, currently in New Zealand, armed with Facebook, a mobile and an email address. The worker and I went travelling 17 years ago and I remember packing airmail envelopes and visiting 'poste restantes'. Family and friends heard from us regularly but by post. At the end of our travels, my mum gave us all the letters we'd sent home and we had kept all those sent to us. I had a look a couple of weeks ago (it was snowing, you know) and marvelled at the handwriting, the little drawings, the stamps. We used to phone about once a month or if we moved to another country. We stood in hot, sweaty, smelly phoneboxes or managed to persuade American Express offices that we were very important customers and needed to use the phone. We phoned on birthdays and at Christmas. That was it. Was it better? It was just different but there's something about knowing that you're properly away. That you're immersed in where you are instead of having one foot where you've been.
Sometimes I think our reliability on technology and all its advantages is rendering us a tad useless. Most people, apparently, fear losing their mobile more than their wallet. I read that landline use is falling like a brick and the sales of maps are waning. 'Easy Living' magazine recently ran an article about all the things we don't do any more, such as:
- read a map
- look something up in an encyclopedia
- write cheques
- write letters
We are losing the physical presence of money, the joy of receiving letters by post and the understanding of wherever we are through the maps that could guide us. There are so many advantages of technology but they come with a bit of a price.