The difference in my travel couldn’t be bigger. From the extreme poverty in India to the wealthy western lifestyle in Australia. From the relaxed Mediterranean vibes (although surprisingly with some poverty) to the busy city of Kuala Lumpur. The beach life on Bali to the cold spring nights in Melbourne.
One fascinating thing however doesn’t change: the use of smartphone. It is astonishing to see how completely integrated the phone is across the world. Especially if you think that this has probably happened in the last 3 to 5 years. Even in India were, if you don’t live in extreme poverty, the first thing you buy after food is a smartphone, at least that is how it looks like to me. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram are widely used in each country. I would argue that it is even used more than in western countries and next to this there is little to no awareness of a possible ‘addiction’.
When I was on one of the Island around Bali (Nusa Lembogan) I was exploring outside the main tourist area. Walking through the collections of bamboo houses just behind the main beach resorts and hotels. I think it was the beginning of the afternoon and, what looked like, every local villager was hiding from the increasing heat. Young and old laying down in the shade. Looking around I saw, especially the younger generation (even 4 – 7 year olds), fused with their smartphone screen. I was surprised. Also here the technology has been widely adopted, which in many ways is great. The internet is immensely useful; a treasure of knowledge. It gives so many opportunities for everybody around the world. But on the other hand I’m worried that they also start to loose touch with reality, with nature and even themselves. The same way the western world is battling this phenomena right now. The constant comparison with each other, the individual society, and the lack of focus and attention.
I can give many more examples of extensive use of smartphones in the most remote (and sometimes poor) regions. For example in India people are calling a lot. In Mumbai you see people doing exercise while calling their parents. For them it is logical. The family ties are still very strong. Your mother, father, grandmother, brother, auntie wants to know where you are and how you are doing all the time.
We are facing a difficult challenge across the world: to create a healthy balance between technology and our local surroundings. Might this also be the underlying cause of the destruction of our planet? I would argue yes but many factors play a part in this.
A phone addiction is easy to acquire but difficult to get rid of. Especially if everybody around you is doing the same. But I’m positive. All around me people are increasing their consciousness and awareness. That is step one. Seeing with clear eyes what you are doing, were your desires are going, and noticing your patterns. The next step is to slowly phase out “always online, always reachable mode”. For example I turned off all my notifications (except call and sms) for the last 2 years and I like it a lot. I would never go back to the constant distractions from something not so important. I would suggest to try it for a while and see how you like it ;).
Important to mention is that I’m not saying “don’t use a smartphone”. It is the same as a knife. It can be used to kill someone or to making a nice salad ;). So use it in a good way!