Can you holiday for a week without wifi?

We are off for a week’s camping. I whoop when I see one site has ‘hot spots’ with wifi. Great. I can post photos on Facebook, tweet, email.

woman working on laptop in tentWe gather our equipment and packing is tight. Some things will have to be abandoned. A few pairs of shoes, some clothes, tennis racquets. I look at the laptop. It is always last for safety reasons. My heart sinks. Do I really need that? How can I go a whole week without writing? I have a notebook but am loath to leave my Work In Progress (WIP) for that long.

Then I think about sitting in our camping chairs. They are not conducive to laptop work. Charging my Toshiba is costly via the camp office. Six library books sit on my coffee table and suddenly I picture myself sitting outside the tent on a sunny evening reading. I am excited at the thought but nervous. The word in my head is ‘work’. As a writer, my computer is constantly in use. I deem it ‘work’. But, this week is a break. Will the books win?

This dilemma set me thinking. We have all seen people on holiday, fingering phones at poolsides, in restaurants, at the hotel breakfast and evening dinner. They seem unable to exist without looking at their phones on a half-hourly basis. If this is ‘work’, they are not really on holiday. Especially if employers can reach them on a whim.

I occasionally fantasise about being Prime Minister, when I will ban employers from contacting holidaying employees. Workplace stress is a major cause of depression and anxiety but many employers ignore the suffering employee, fail to renew contracts or make excuses to ‘let them go’.

While texting or phoning a holidaying employee may be tantamount to bullying, sadly it appears to be the norm. Many of us are complicit. We all like to feel indispensable. To be asked a vital question on holiday can boost a fragile ego.

If the phubbing (the word for fingering phones whereby the user ‘snubs’ those around them in favour of their phone) is not about work, it could be contact with friends, family and scrolling social media. If this is a daily activity and continued when away then we are not on holiday at all. We are just in a different place.

Fear of being offline

woman relaxing on hammock with bookRecently, I read about FOBO.* The acronym stands for Fear of Being Offline. Many people are so addicted to their telephones they cannot go more than five minutes without picking them up, tapping, thumbing and peering down. The writer questioned whether readers would become anxious if they were away from the internet for any length of time.

I read the piece just before packing for the camping trip and was horrified to recognise some traits in my own behaviour.

My partner does not suffer FOBO (fear of being offline) as he avoids technology as much as possible. When on holiday, we leave a hotel or holiday company reference with family. I am not one who has an urgent need to speak to family members each day. The cat is happy in the cattery and the neighbours take in the post. What more do you need? A holiday – a real one – not just two weeks’ relocation.

Finally, it is time we recognised this behaviour for what it is. Sheer rudeness. I am not alone in having a holiday morning by the pool ruined by someone discussing work on his phone in a loud pompous voice. Phones should be banned – as with smoking – from all public areas. We managed before mobile phones. Surely we can again.

I am a writer and I need access to social media. But I am advanced enough to use scheduling of posts. With some forward planning I can stay off Facebook and Twitter for a week or two and recharge my inner batteries rather than those of the laptop, boosting my creativity in the process.

So rather than join the ranks of the FOBO folk I left the laptop at home.

After all there was a pile of library books on the coffee table.

And… I wanted a real holiday.

*In the Times on Saturday 18th July 2015 Barbara McMahon wrote about a syndrome known as FOBO (Fear of being offline).

Di Castle

About Di Castle

I am a writer living in Swanage. Born and bred in Hertfordshire, I always had a love of words, writing as soon as I could hold a pen. My sister is profoundly deaf and I have a passionate interest in raising deaf awareness. After my youngest daughter went to school I began a career teaching in Further Education, while collecting a hoard of unfinished manuscripts. Later, my writing took precedence and, since becoming a regular attendee at the Winchester Writers' Conference, I have enjoyed success in their competitions gaining two first prizes and highly commended awards for articles on a range of subjects. I began blogging in 2012 and as well as issues surrounding deafness I blog on mental health, dyslexia, writing and anything topical that stirs me to fire up the computer. You can read my blogs here: www.dicastlewriter.wordpress.com. My poetry collection, Grandma’s Poetry Book, was self-published by Matador in November 2014. I have other books in progress and there is interest from agents in my memoir of growing up with a deaf sibling. Before moving to Swanage in 2001, I enjoyed a nomadic existence in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and South Bucks. I live close to my partner, Bryan, in a Victorian building overlooking Swanage Bay with views towards Bournemouth and Old Harry Rocks. I have three daughters and seven grandchildren.

  • Deborah Garlick

    No. Always log on to the hotel wifi and check my social media and mail. Still have a great holiday but know I should really try to stay off more. Thank you Di, I think we’ve forgotten how to just enjoy ourselves without social media x

  • Kay Garrett

    I find it really difficult to stay offline unless I’ve got no signal. I found the best type of holiday for this was a cruise – my phone literally became a defunct piece of hardware while we were at sea, and it’s a very liberating experience.

  • Jane Minton

    Because I run my own coaching business I normally always check emails at least once every 24 hours as I promise to respond to enquiries within a day. I’m happy to schedule social media in advance and not look at that for a week or two! What I need to do is set up an ‘out of office’ reply for emails sometimes …