Last weekend was Canberra day, a public holiday to mark the formal naming of the city in 1913.
Like many Canberrans we chose to celebrate the long weekend by fleeing the city for a rented beach house on the coast.
We took our little portable network box with us, which tried to work, but didn’t. The lights flashed, flickered, went solid, and flickered again before dropping back to an intermittent 2G signal.
We’d rented a house in a 3G blackspot, so no internet.
Now a lot of people write about how you should have a digital detox, switch off, tune out and the rest but very few write about what happens when you do, especially in a world which is more digital by the day.
Over a weekend, it’s no big deal. No twitter, no email, no wikipedia, no online news or weather, no google to search for restaurants.
It means you have to be spontaneous, and flexible, if here’s full, try there, or go and have a barbecue. It also means that you have this space in your life to read and talk.
And that’s good. Longer term I doubt the practicality of it, simply because that’s how you do your banking, order anything that isn’t available locally, even organise to get your haircut. It’s like when you visit the bank these days.
There’s no tellers. There’s loan consultants, investment consultants, but no one to take your money, or indeed give you some. Turn up with an international bank draft (yes, they still exist, just) and they struggle to remember what to do.
And in a sense, that’s what we should expect. The twentieth century is over. We live differently now. But just as people used to take some paints and a sketchbook, or a camera to go and unwind for a day or so, so should we ...