This past week, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit my friends abroad in Europe. I didn’t think there would be any reason for this “Fear of Missing Out” on my spring break trip, as talked about by my classmate. After all, I was in Europe. Let me reiterate: This past week I was traveling around the beautiful grasslands and cliffs of Ireland and the small, bustling cities of Italy for 7 days.
What could I possibly be missing out on, right? Wrong.
I couldn’t turn on my international data on my phone, due to the risk of running up expensive charges. However, where there is wifi there is the ability to be connected. And as I found it, where there is a connection there is a feeling of missing out. Realistically, I wasn’t missing out anything. In fact, others should have even felt they were missing out on my adventures! I was losing touch with the whole experience of my adventure as we asked at every restaurant, every museum, every shop and train station – “is there wifi here?” The worst part about this experience was as I did this, I knew it was bad. Part of me felt guilty, mad at myself that I needed to know if I could be connected. I was embarrassed, that it was second nature to be connected and that I felt slightly lost without that connection.
The strangest part about this all was that there really was nothing to be connected to. My friends were away on their own trips, my family was all safe and sound going about their daily activities, and social media would still be there whenever it was I chose to return to it. So why do we feel the need to be so connected?
One day this past week I decided to just cut the rope on the need for wifi and not even bring my phone around that day. Perhaps much to the surprise of many, I survived. I let my other friends take the pictures, and when my brain wandered off questioning how many texts I had received I focused back to where I was and on enjoying the moment. And call me old-fashioned or crazy, but it worked. Disconnecting myself from the actual platform of communication wasn’t easy, and my mind still thought about it frequently. In fact, I sometimes even felt uneasy without my phone. But looking back on the actual experience, my memories of that day are the strongest.
Blog update: to confirm this last statement, I spent some time researching this exact effect I experienced. An article in Natural News provided a good summary of what many others agree with – dependence on technology and communication is in fact messing with our memories.