Life in a technological black hole

IMG_4721In March of this year, I moved into a little medieval cottage in (well, next to) the middle of nowhere on top of the Mendip Hills in Somerset. To say it is basic by modern standards is a bit of an understatement. My heating is via a big log burner and a couple of old storage heaters, which depending on how they feel, may or may not blow the electrics for the rest of the house. The windows are old thin single glazed, the floor gets wet when its raining hard or if it’s hot and humid and ventilation is provided by gaps under the doors big enough to fit a hand (or a mouse) under.


One of my initial priorities was to install the internet into the house, a task that proved more complicated and expensive than initially hoped. When I did finally find a provider, the highest speed available to me was 1meg. Deciding this was pretty much pointless, I just didn’t bother, put it to one side and possibly to do at a later date.


Now, 9 months on, this still hasn’t been done and my outlook on things is quite different than it was at the start.


I have found that life goes on quite happily without the internet. I have realised that I don’t need a 24-hour information stream full of transient information, that, other than worrying me and sometimes making me unhappy added nothing to my life. Now if I want access to the proper internet[1] I simply go to the pub, my caving club down the road or if I have washing that needs doing, then down to my mum’s 20 minutes away. A bit like posting a letter[2] in the old days.


What I have noticed is that although I am undoubtedly having less interaction with other people, that which I am having is real, direct and face to face, on the phone or using the oldest form of social networking, going down the pub. These interactions are enjoyable and instantly 2 way. No one ever says LOL in real life, do they?


I have realised that whoever it is and however much they deny it, most people’s life on social media is a carefully crafted version of what they want you to see or think of them doing. Everyone seems to be having amazing holidays, going to great parties, or on the flip, having a time so bad that they feel the need to tell everyone about it. No one ever puts a big post on Facebook about their trip to Lidl along with a raft of photos from the chocolate section discussing which is best, a mars bar or a Mr Choc Choco Caramel[3] and how they had to endure the one cash desk open even though there were 20 people waiting.


It seems to me that people are becoming tech zombies. Everywhere you go, people have their faces staring at their phones rather than the world around them. This I find so sad. Transient information is just that, transient and temporary. A majority of people if asked could tell you who presents Bake Off, but couldn’t tell you the type of tree they’re stood next to or the history of where they live. The bit I find saddest is watching parents taking the children to school so engrossed in whatever is happing on facegram, instachat or snapbook that they forget to interact with their own precious children. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn in a few years that this is having major impacts on the children’s emotional and educational development, if this is proved correct, then it’s a very sad legacy for the “smart” phone.


The internet and social media does have uses to me. I use it to run my business, market myself and showcase visual parts of my outdoor and artistic work and even do my banking. The most revolutionary thing about the internet is the ease of keeping in touch with friends in far flung places and reporting back when I am likewise, things that would have been either complicated, expensive or both before.


So, is my life any less fulfilled living in my little tech black hole? No, I don’t think it is. I have read more and learnt more in the last 9 months than in the last 10 years, I cook loads, make things all without any distraction other than that of BBC 6 Music or Radio4 which is always playing in the main room. When not working or doing this, I fill my time helping on the farm, watching the amazing wildlife[4] that lives all around me or even riding my bike or simply going for a walk in the amazing local countryside which surrounds me.


Did I mention I don’t have a TV? Now that one really blows the kids minds. I’ll tell you about that at a later date.




[1] for some reason I can’t fathom, I get 4g mobile signal in my bedroom between 6 and 8 am, so this has become my email and web time albeit on the tiny screen of an iPhone SE

[2] A letter was a folded piece of paper covered in neat handwriting, placed in an envelope and delivered to the recipient in a few days by a grumpy bloke on a bike.

[3] Mr choc is the winner for me every time.

[4] At the moment, we have 3 types of owl, 7 types of bat, fieldfares, redstarts, foxes, badgers and so much more.