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All at sea

January 22, 2015

My mum and sister are on a cruise at the moment. At least, that what they said they’d be doing. It’s not like we’re getting regular Facebook updates or anything. In fact, it’s been a while since we heard anything. But that’s how it is, apparently.

It’s not that different from when people used to go on holiday in the 80s – you’d say bye at the airport/front doorstep/wherever and then likely not see them until they returned, unless something so out of the ordinary happened that a phone call had to be made.

The internet changed all that. If you’re the holidaymaker (a phrase I love, not least because of the implication that just going on holiday is an inherently productive act), then your loved ones and other social media contacts can enjoy an all-inclusive account of all the blurry landscapes, poorly rendered still-lives of twilit cocktails and rudely named foreign food items you encounter.

The reverse is also true – it’s so simple and easy to stay so connected when you’re away, that holidays can become little more than a different room/restaurant/beach from which to monitor the latest offspring of the school friend you barely knew in the top infants. It’s all a far cry from when you’d arrive back in the UK, a little frisson of excitement crackling as you waited to see the headlines and find out which famous people had died while you’d been away.

But on the boat, my relatives are apparently pretty much incommunicado. I’m quite envious of them. All-you-can-consume aspects aside, I feel like it’s all too easy to continuously augment real life by bathing in the blue light of devices (she typed, bathed in the blue light of devices). I’m not sure I can remember the last time that I sat and did nothing.

Anyway, we get messages when they’re on dry land and in the environs of friendly wi-fi. I miss the ritual of calling my mum every couple of days. Even though our conversations are fairly straightforward and about what’s happening generally in our lives, talking is as much about hearing her voice and picturing what she’s doing and where, as it is keeping up to date.

I have their itinerary so can theoretically picture where they are and what might be happening. And while the days of waiting in Boots to get your photos back, complete with passive-aggressive advice stickers (learn to take pictures! Hold the camera still! Buy some suncream next time!), I’m sure there will be lots of pictures to see when they’re back. Just like, you know, when we actually had to wait to receive news and information, and social media was nothing more than the noticeboard where they pinned up information about what time the next coach excursion was departing.

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