In this day and age, it is incredibly easy to stay in touch with friends and family across the world. Social media allows us to inform our loved ones on just about everything and anything. The internet is a great tool, but it can also become a handicap. With our minds being devoted to the perfect caption/post/update, we can easily forget to live in the moment. It can be so easy to become preoccupied or distracted by our social media game that it becomes almost impossible to fully experience your time abroad. I really only know this differentiation after a blessing in disguise that rendered my smart phone useless.
Of course at first there was only panic. How will I stay in contact with my family? How will I navigate myself around this strange city? How will I know what everyone else is up to? These were a few of the recurring questions that swirled around my mind for the first couple of days or so. About a week later the strangest phenomenon occurred, I forgot about my phone. I am a person that is known for usually having her hands on her phone at all times, as if the mere act of holding it became a security blanket. Yet, I was perfectly contempt without it. I had my camera to take picture, and could videochat my parents at night through my tablet. I realized very quickly that I not only did not need my phone, but I also did not want it.
I was able to enjoy picnics and concerts instead of worrying about recording it for my friends to later see. This past weekend in London, I was able to devote my whole attention to the Changing of the Guard. As I watched the ceremony take place on a beautiful and sunny Sunday, I noticed all of the other tourists watching the same ceremony through their screens. As if recording it was more important than seeing it firsthand. I noticed a similar sensation in the London Eye, where others were so inwrought with taking the perfect picture that they completely missed the spectacular view! In those moments I realized how my malfunctioning phone was actually a blessing.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am an avid social media user, already have an appointment to get my phone fixed when I get back to the states, and managed to get a local phone for emergencies. I am in no ways saying that I am a survivalist or that I have completely severed ties with virtual world, but I do have to admit that it has been nice to just be while abroad. Knowing that I cannot upload or receive anything until the moment I have a decent wifi connection has granted me a sort of freedom from a cell phone that I had not had for years. Because of this, I would highly suggest leaving cellular devices at home, or at least at the hotel, during a trip. Your friends can see and hear about everything when you get back, but you can only really experience a moment once!