What Travelling With A Smart Phone Has Taught Me About The Value Of Slow Living

Photo provided by Seemann
Photo provided by Seemann

I've worked in tech most of my life-selling computers, cell phones, designed websites, apps, and branded a fair share of start-ups. From the age of eighteen I've had the ability to be consistently connected to the world, via a smart phone. I didn't realize how addicted I was until my first trip outside of the United States. I remember the conversation with my phone carrier, as this was also the first vacation I was taking away from a start-up, in which, they wouldn't be able to contact me in a timely matter if something went wrong.

It went vaguely like this:
Me: Will my HTC work outside the USA?
Phone Company: As long as you have an international plan and phone yes.
M: Is my phone an international phone?
PC: yes.
M: Do I have an international plan?
PC: Yes.

So I thought nothing of getting on a plane for seventeen hours completely worry free. Sadly, when arriving in Ireland, I found that neither my phone nor my plan was international. That trip painfully ripped my addiction to constant contact out of my capable hands. I was forced to take pictures during the day and not share them immediately. Work emails seemed so slow when eight hours ahead of California. You know what though, I got through it. Interestingly, I also enjoyed not having the interruption of twitter, voicemail, or emails dinging through. I took a walk, went to pubs, and talked with people. Most of all, I connected with a wider world than what was just within the confines of my smart phone.

When I moved to England, I had a new and tested international smart phone. However, my clients and most of my friends were still eight hours behind me. Now, to be clear, by the time I moved, I had already put in place (due to my trip to Ireland) data consumption restrictions on myself. I didn't want to lose that freedom of being untethered. I’d limited email to twice a day, blocked out time to do artistic, non-internet related work every day, and even cut off my subscriptions to HULU and Netflix. All of this leaving me with time to plan an extended stay in England. I had this phone, this smart phone, which was attached to me wherever I went but after moving to England I realized my usage had changed. My internet searches now listed things like, “Where’s the nearest coffee house?” “Where’s the nearest pub?” “What are the local landmarks” or “What train do I take to get to [landmark]?” Without knowing it, my path to a slower lifestyle had begun.

A techy that has a love of a slower lifestyle seems a bit backwards, however, a slower lifestyle does not mean less productivity—it means a more fulfilled lifestyle. I still have the same responsibilities, some weeks it seems like even more responsibility but I love it. The balance between work and play is really the factor. If you let the two have a constant connection to each other, they’ll eventually meld into one. When that happens, how will you recoup from a long day? Will you even be able to?

Jeannie is an international artist, writer, designer, and MoG contributor. This post originally appeared on her own blog, JeannieDesign.net.

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