Connect or Disconnect??

Breaking Phone

Taking a small break from my Bucket List blog to reflect on my experience of being connected versus disconnected from social media, family, and just overall US news and media while away.  I have to say that it was truly a much different experience, but a good one that I wish I had done much sooner.

Being Connected

Thanks to my US carrier, T-Mobile, I had the ability to send and receive text messages, and unlimited 2G-3G data in practically every country in Western Europe.  Being a firm believer in technology and being connected regardless of borders and distance, being connected while on vacation was a must-have for me.   While being connected, I noticed a few pro’s, yet a few con’s at the same time:

Pro’s

  • FB access from anywhere – Regardless of which country I was in, I could see how family and friends were doing half a world away, and I could share unbelievable moments and experiences at the touch of a finger.
  • Communication – Outside of FB, my group and I were able to message via FB Messenger and text message to communicate while in different parts of the city of the country that we were in for the day.
  • Yelp and Google! – Instead of just taking food and places for face value, we were able to read reviews, view pictures, and get a little inside view into what exactly we were about to do or eat.

Con’s

Too Much Access – While being connected was amazing, I felt a little bit too connected.  I found myself sometimes oversharing experiences, versus taking them in and enjoying the experience without using technology.  Yes, I only have one Con, but I think it’s a big one.  Being too connected had me focused much more on technology versus really enjoying the experience.  Traveling is an experience best enjoyed by making the most of the moment, not just tweeting or posting about it.  I enjoyed sharing the moments when I could on FB while my phone was still running, but sharing too much became a bit tiresome.

Being Disconnected

In hindsight, I never planned on being disconnected.  I was disconnected from the sure fact that I would either end up with a dead battery, or no proper outlets to charge my phone, so it forced me to be disconnected.  Although I never planned on it, it was probably the best to have happened to me while on this trip:

Pro’s

  • A Unique Experience – I say it was unique because instead of looking for the next best moment to capture or share on FB, Instagram, and Twitter; I actually just took the experience in and had a chance to look around and enjoy my surroundings.  In today’s society, we’re so consumed with capturing every moment instead of just really living in the moment and then sharing the experiences after the fact.
  • Real Life Communication – With being disconnected from my friends and family via my smart phone, it forced me to keep the real life communication going with my group of family traveler’s that were on this epic journey with me. We had amazing conversations that I would’ve never had a chance to heard or experience if I was still dead set on being connected.
  • More Pictures! – After just accepting that I didn’t want to be connected anymore on the trip, I made the firm decision to put my phone in Airplane Mode, and actually have enough battery life to capture the moments and sights that I was looking at. Running into a battery issue forced me to prioritize what was important to me.  Ultimately, capturing moments with my family was far more important than keeping my data on and seeing what new accomplishment or where my friends just ate at back home.

Con’s

  • Lack of Separation – With being disconnected, my group and I could still split up to view the sights and sounds of the city and country, but we could only do so within reason. We weren’t exactly able to split up across Paris, but we could do so within reason.  If you’re connected, you can afford to relay train line or bus information, and then send your geolocation over to your travel buddies and be able to explore more parts of the city.
  • No Pictures – Outside of being completely disconnected, if my battery was dead, I wasn’t able to capture any videos or pictures. While my family still had the traditional camera’s to assist in this department, there were just some moments that I really wanted to capture on my own but couldn’t cause my battery was dead.

In conclusion, I certainly didn’t plan on being disconnected.  Overall, it was a very humbling experience because it forced me and the group to do things that were simple, effective, and very much outside the social normal of today’s social media driven society.  It was great to be disconnected and truly was an experience that humbled me on my long journey.