In the last couple of weeks I’ve done A LOT of travelling throughout Australia for work. It’s been busy, but great. [HUGE thanks to my amazing support crew, aka my incredible husband and family, who’ve helped with meals, baby-sitting and facilitating a house move while I was away. I mean it when I say I couldn’t do what I do without you.]
So as you can imagine, I’ve spent a lot of time in airports. And sitting in planes on the runway. And in taxis.
And I’ve had a lot of time to think and also ‘switch off’ (for international readers we have mandatory rules about switching off digital devices when taking off and landing in Australia).
And I’ve actually learnt a lot. A lot about people and our relationship with technology. So I thought I’d share my discoveries with you.
It Feels Good to Switch Off
First up, I’ve developed a new appreciation for how important (and easy) it is to ‘switch off’ from digital devices. The world continues. Life goes on. And you’ll cope. In fact, you may even feel better afterwards.
I’ve always been more than happy to switch off my phone. Confession– sometimes I actually turn my phone off because I want some time to myself and don’t want to hear the pings, beeps and booms. (Sorry friends and husband if you’re reading this. Yes, this is why you often reach my voice mail and not me. I don’t always have bad service. Sometimes I literally switch off.)
However, on my recent flights, I was flabbergasted at people’s response to being asked (often several times) to switch off their phone or tablet. The hostess’ (multiple) requests to turn off mobile phones were often met with huffs and a sighs.
People became visibly distressed at the thought of switching off. (I even saw one woman hiding her phone under her leg so that she could continue to send SMS while the plane taxied along the runway, despite being asked several times to switch off her phone. Tsk tsk!)
I also was amazed at the collective sigh when the announcement declared that it was now okay to switch digital devices back on. The sense of relief was palatable. The hysteria was obvious too as people scrambled to grab their phone and turn it back on.
Don’t get me wrong. I know how important it is to be connected. In fact, while I was on two of my interstate adventures my husband and I bought and sold a house. So I was relying on my phone to speak with the bank, solicitors and my husband. It was vital. But I also appreciated the ability to turn it off.
LIFE LESSON– it’s nice to unplug and it’s not as hard as you may think. In fact, you may even enjoy it.
Why Are We All in a Hurry?
Another thing I discovered whilst travelling recently was just how frantic and rushed we are as adults. I couldn’t believe the number of people who launched out of their seat the minute the seatbelt sign was turned off when the plane landed. And pushed and jostled for a spot… in the aisle. To stand in the aisle and wait to disembark.
This made me stop and think, what life lessons are we teaching children? Are we telling them life is frantic and needs to be lived at frenetic pace? Are we subtlety teaching them that we need to push and jostle? It shouldn’t be like this.
So one my second and subsequent flights, I decided to sit down and wait until there was time (and space) to disembark. No rush. Win win. I had a few extra minutes to sit and read my magazine (and also giggle at the people pushing and jostling). And it was great. And I also didn’t need to dodge luggage falling from the overhead compartment.
I also had to quietly giggle when I stood next to the same people who’d rushed and pushed and jostled standing at the baggage carousel or taxi queue.
LIFE LESSON– Slow down. We don’t always need to rush. You’ll still arrive at your destination and will probably feel better if you don’t rush!
Get Some Vitamin C- It Feels Good
Not only have I spent time in planes, but I’ve also spent a lot of time in taxis recently.
Now I admit that during my first taxi ride, I spent the time glued to my device. Checking emails, Facebook and Instagram. It wasn’t until I I’d arrived at my destination and had missed the entire journey from the airport to the hotel that I realised that I had been completely mesmerised by my device. I’d missed the opportunity to look around and take in the local scenery.
So I made a conscious decision after this taxi ride to make sure that I didn’t use my phone whilst I sat in taxis. And boy. What a difference it made!
Not only did I get to take in lots of the local scenery and notice things you can’t typically notice when you’re driving, but I had some of the most interesting conversations with taxi drivers.
I heard taxi drivers speaking about their previous work as an engineer and a pediatrician. I also heard taxi drivers talk about solutions to our country’s economic and social problems. I also heard a taxi driver tell me about his family history and his hoarding problems.
Connect and talk to your taxi driver. Everyone has a story and taxi drivers have some of the most interesting stories.
LIFE LESSON– Take opportunities to disconnect from devices and get some Vitamin C- connection.
So as you can see it’s certainly been an interesting couple of weeks. I’ve learnt a lot and met some wonderful people.
Not only have I learnt these important life lessons about technology and life, but I also discovered the joys of the Qantas Club! Why had I not discovered this earlier?
I’d love to hear in the comments below, what have you noticed about people when you’ve travelled? Any other important life or technology lessons?