Different spin 18th April 2014
I paid almost two thousand ringgit in telco charges for my 17 day trip in Europe last year. My husband was bewildered.
"Didn't you use wifi to check your emails and go online?"
I pretended not to hear him and slithered away before he started bombarding me with more questions.
Yes. That was the original plan during our Europe roadtrip; that I would switch off my Data Roaming and only go online when I had access to (free) wifi. But you see, I have an addiction - I call it the "Must Know Now" syndrome. So while my husband drove us for hours to our next destination, I'd quietly switch on my Data Roaming just so I could see what was happening over social media. I told myself that "just 10 minutes wouldn't hurt". My phone bill obviously showed otherwise.
Paying my phone charges was a painful and an expensive lesson. I vowed my dependency on social media and this fixation with my smartphone had to stop somewhere. I noticed that even with local charges, I spent way too much time on social media - either chatting over different chatroom platforms, updating my statuses, uploading pictures, writing comments, liking, downloading news and corny videos - and heaven forbid! I was becoming such a selfie queen, something I said I will never become! (Never say never my friends).
When I used "but it's for work research" as an excuse, I knew I was in trouble.
I used to have another vice, and the only way I curbed it, was to go cold turkey. I decided my roadtrip to the United States was going to do the trick for phone-dependent-me.
Upon reaching American soil, it was really difficult not being able to post a picture of me at the airport. On hindsight, that probably was a blessing in disguise. By the time I had reached the apartment we were renting for a week, I saw just how horrible I looked! I was never quite good with long hauled flights and admittedly, the recent MH370 incident had got me a tad bit anxious. So my "fatigue hit, runny nose and messy hair look" would have not complemented my excited "Woohoo! I'm in U to the S-A" update, I initially wanted to post up.
The first day in New York city, we took the typical tourist route by tour. I took most pictures with my smartphone, but instead of microblogging my photos and uploading them right away, I wrote on a notebook I brought along with me. I used to have a diary during my younger years and going back to basics brought a warm nostalgic feel.
Being so used to typing, I forgot how it felt to write again. My handwriting had really deteoriated over the years and my attempt to go ole' skool, was like writing class all over again.
The next day, the weather was less chilly, so I went down to Central Park and sat by the bench. Soaking up the atmosphere, I practiced my strokes again and ended up doodling on my journal. I saw a young girl with her sister nearby, and this made me think of my two daughters back home. My heart twitched yearning for them, so my doodles now became sketches of my Isobel and Iman playing in the park. While drawing, I noticed more things come alive like the twig that swayed softly to the wind, ready to fall onto the daffodils that were blooming down below. I heard the music from a mini speaker of the old man practicing taichi on the lawn as his dog watched protectively.
During teatime, I had a really nice conversation with my husband. We haven't had real eye contact for awhile now, as sitting down for a meal overseas usually allowed us to gain access to its free wifi and we'd be busy with our phones by now. This time around, I let go of that urge to do so and over the next few meals together, our relationship was likened to that 5 years ago, when he was courting me. As cheesy as it sounds, it felt as if we were falling in love all over again.
This trip was going to be a music trip - something both my husband and I were passionate about. Instead of whipping out my phone to record the concerts/tours/exhibitions; I held onto my husbands hands and closed my eyes, sometimes whilst tapping my feet or dancing to the beat of drums. When I was able to forego my gadgets, I was able to truly understand the reason why we were there and learning more about the music legends and their history with heightened appreciation.
You see, I've noticed that in my quest to capture my memories of my trips before this "Smartphone Addiction Anonymous self-conducted program", I had forgotten to live that moment in its present. I was so busy trying to commemorate the places I visited and updating it over social media then and there, that I missed the whole experience in totality. Plus my "Must Know Now" addiction was making me feel all emotional about things that were not necessarily related to me. I know keeping up with current affairs is important, especially in my line of work; but sometimes, it is good to switch off from the troubles of the world, to concentrate instead, on your own path and well-being.
I still plug onto my social media platforms once we reach the hotel room, but I wait till my husband is snoring before I logon onto the hotel wifi access. My senses have been rejuventated as I observe more with my own eyes that through digital megapixels.
I think I can get used to this new me.
Daphne has finally visited her childhood crush's home at Graceland, Memphis and is a happy camper. Are you an Elvis fan like her? Tweet her at @daphCLPT. (Her replies might be slightly delayed though).