I was having a discussion with a hostel-mate last night about the changes in technology. As is often the case in these conversations, we reminisced of a time when we used books to get information and wrote everything on paper. We thought about what travel would be like without all the recent advancements in technology, and we both agreed that we like it the way it is.
Modern technology is ridiculously awesome when it comes to travel!
I can search for and book accommodation and transportation ahead of time. I can save maps of places I am going, and use the GPS to figure out where I am in a city (or, if I have a local SIM card with data, I wouldn’t even need to save the map). I can get information right when I need it – a free walking tour, top sites to see, good restaurants to try, etc. I can have a library of books available to me, all taking less space than one paperback book. I can do all this and more, while keeping in touch with family and friends around the globe. Modern technology allows us to research, plan, explore, enjoy, and communicate – all on one handheld device! If that’s not ridiculously awesome, I don’t know what is!
But what’s a little ridiculous, is how we let it get in the way of potentially awesome social interactions.
I’ve stayed in a couple hostels that purposely don’t have internet, in order to promote a more social atmosphere. And, while these have been few and far between, they have been the best hostels I’ve ever stayed at, and they always have the best reviews! When people get connected to the internet, they become less social. It becomes more of a challenge to interact and engage with the people around you. But internet isn’t so bad – it’s manageable.
What’s worse? Hostels with TVs!!!
When you add a TV to a hostel common room, it almost completely takes the social interaction away. People watching the TV don’t want to socialize, people not watching the TV don’t want to be rude by talking over the program, and some (me) just simply get distracted by all the noise. There are times (like last night), when it’s nice to chill and watch a movie. But I was lucky that the TV was off when I arrived, or I’m certain I wouldn’t have made friends with my hostel-mates (and would not have watched the movie with them).
I could also discuss how we’ve become addicted to technology and connectedness… but I don’t think that’s necessarily ridiculous. Rather, it’s a big concern that many people are aware of and take measures to prevent/fix. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic, for another time.
Travel with technology: it’s ridiculously awesome, so long as it’s not overdone, at which point it’s just plain old ridiculous.