The world has reached a tipping point, a crossroads of sorts, and a momentous decision must be made which will chart a new course for all humankind.
I am, of course, talking about the offering of unlimited free Wi-Fi on planes. Several American airlines have started experimenting with this, and so the question becomes, should all planes then offer free Wi-Fi, unlimited or otherwise?
Just to be clear, this is not a global issue that needs addressing like climate change. Nothing perhaps spells out bougie and the worries and concerns of the privileged more than whether or not unlimited free Wi-Fi (on planes nonetheless), should be made available.
Here you see the quintessential definition of a “first-world problem”. Sometimes it’s laughable that people are crying out for free Wi-Fi on a plane when a sizeable portion of the human population are worrying if they even have food or water (y’know, actual necessities in life).
Now, back to the issue on hand, it’s easy to see and feel the impact of social media and the Internet in our lives. Editorial pieces from various publications have started crafted story angles anchored by insta-worthy cafes or insta-worthy spots to explore when you’re travelling (guilty as charged), and it points to how invasive Instagram has been in our lives.
And because information and entertainment comes so easily to us by way of our phones, we get bored easily especially when there’s a block of time that we are cut off from Internet access.
All that said, I do genuinely believe a part of why we humans need the Internet and why we are addicted to social media goes back to the intrinsic human nature/need to belong to a community and feel connected to others. Social media and the Internet provide the perfect platform to allow you to be in the know, any time anywhere, and that includes on the plane. It’s simply the nature of how society today interacts.
That has birthed a movement (if you can call it that) to take a digital, or to a lesser degree, a social media detox. We are increasingly aware of the detrimental effects of technology and the inordinate amount of time spent on our digital devices, or so many of these experts are preaching. This has planted seeds in our minds of how pervasive and intertwined our lives have become with smartphones and technology to an unhealthy and excessive degree.
This has also shaped the marketing campaigns of tourism for globally. It’s either a buzzing city with many Instagrammable spots or an island destination that styles themselves as a place where you can put your phones away and connect with the world around you.
Think the Maldvies or Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, where unplugging from the digital world is as much a draw as the cerulean clear waters and sunny skies. People are paying top dollar to escape not just the mundanity of life back home, but also the tunnel that is the Internet and social media.
If the goal of our travels is to get away from everything that makes us feel trapped, does this “detox” or “escape” then only begin when we reach said destination? The journey on a plane is often seen as a means to an end, the vehicle which transports us to our desired location, and nothing more.
However, the absence of Wi-Fi presents an opportunity to grab ahold of.
As perhaps one of the last bastions of disconnection, I think we should take the chance to have a few hours to ourselves on the plane – a pocket of time without the Internet, Instagram, Twitter, the smartphone for that how many hours of flight time before we inevitably touch down, whip out our phones and share with the quite frankly, not super interested world on what’s new in our lives.
Trust me, it can do you wonders to peel away for a while – refocus and refresh – and have a period of time when the world becomes silent and not buzzing at the interconnected fast pace it can quite often be. You can even do it out of spite, to show the world that not every Millennial is dependent on social media 24/7.
Having Wi-Fi on board certainly has its perks, there’s no denying it. With easy access to emails and social media, or even to make calls, for many it is a necessity and not a perk. Sometimes, when business calls, it’s not something you can ignore.
Now, I’m not saying that we should all do an Internet detox, it’s an incredibly tall task that only the most disciplined can achieve in today’s age, but I do think we can afford a few hours in the air to be disconnected. I mean, you’re literally in flying in the air on a predetermined route to a destination, what do you honestly need your phone for, Google Maps to guide the pilot?
Grab a book, people.
Well, despite my views on this, I think it’ll be just a matter of time before the availability of free Wi-Fi dominates every sector of our lives, and perhaps all airlines will offer unlimited free Wi-Fi in the near future, and the world will rejoice, because God forbid we die slowly inside every minute we are disconnected.