Backchat With Catboy
Can the radio star handle a two-week digital detox?
Iarrived in Dubai a few hours ago, in the middle of the night, after a holiday in Cyprus with my family. During this holiday I also went into a self-imposed social media and online exile. It was time for a break. I needed to switch off. Isn’t that what holidays are supposed to be all about? Well, apparently not. According to a recent survey by travel agencies, well over half of us will check work e-mails whilst on holiday. Men are the worst culprits and it causes a third of couples to fall out. I regularly spend way too much time neglecting my family in order to fulfil my employment obligations because it seems that is what is expected of us these days. Social media plays a large part of my job, so my shift doesn’t finish when I walk out of the building. The same goes for corporate e-mail. Years ago, when I started working, I was never contacted outside working hours about anything, let alone on holiday. Work got done during working hours. Ask most employers and I’m sure they’d ‘officially’ say that nothing has changed, but we all know that the first responders to evening e-mails and nocturnal Whatsapps are probably teacher’s pets and, in these days of everyone being replaceable, nobody wants to be seen as the office stick-in-the-mud. Well, I am. Two weeks ago I announced my brief sabbatical from all social media and, for the first time ever, I left my computer at home. My family took this with a pinch of salt because they’ve seen what holiday disconnecting usually entails for me: increasingly extended toilet time; surreptitious under-the-table clicking; and, eventually, blatant screen time with a plethora of lame excuses: I’m posting the photos for our parents to see; The boss can tell I’ve read the message, so I have to reply now; it’s a brilliant video – the whole world should see it!
By the end of most family holidays I have broken my promises to both my family and myself and everyone, including me, is disappointed. This time I managed it. You can check if you don’t believe me. It was fantastic. I didn’t miss it at all. I still took photos and made as many memories. I still kept a handwritten diary, which is infinitely more romantic than a Facebook status update with a smiley emoji.
And I didn’t read a single e-mail. For two weeks.
This resulted in me opening my Mac today and seeing the e-mails whirring-in. It was the electronic version of being slapped across the face with a cold, wet fish. It’s life saying: “Holiday’s over, sucker!”
Within the thousands of messages I’ve neglected, were the editors of What’s On who sent a number of reminders about needing this month’s page. Now, the What’s On team are, with the exception of one northern brute, an extremely lovely bunch, so the e-mails went from politely asking to politely pleading.* So, I apologise for my eleventh-hour entry and pledge to give sufficient notice regarding future, foreign frivolity.
*For the record, it was a tweet from the aforementioned northern brute that got this written. Sometimes you have to replace the kid gloves with boxing gloves…