I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not great with technology. I’m not a regular blogger; I’ve only just started using WhatsApp; I only occasionally post to Facebook; I don’t know what a Google Hangout is; and LinkedIn is still a bit of a mystery to me (“Facebook for grownups” seems to be the best description I’ve heard).
Notwithstanding my limited engagement with social media, I do find myself deeply thankful for the role technology plays in my life, especially social media. The last few days offer some good examples…
Sat in the North Terminal of Gatwick airport on Monday morning waiting for my flight to be called reminded me of being sat in the same rows of chairs many years ago waiting to set off on family holidays. I decided to send a group WhatsApp message to my family which started a back-and-forth as we reminisced about those holidays (and it provided an opportunity to make some jokes at the expense of my dad’s infamous holiday bum bag)!
A few minutes later my eldest brother messaged me to ask for my flight number so he can track my journey on the FlightRadar24app. Traveling for business is often a lonely experience but the thought of loved ones keeping watch over my journey brings reassurance and peace. Upon arriving in Cameroon I received a picture of my flight map from my brother with the words “tracking you flying past the Bavarian Forrest…”.
I woke on the first morning in Cameroon to find an e-mail in my inbox from my wife. She sent me a picture of our daughter wearing a new teddy bear towel with the caption: “Show Daddy my teddy towel!”. The worst part of travelling often in being away from family so these little messages are treasured.
My reason for traveling on this occasion was to speak at a conference. Although the internet connection at our venue was decidedly patchy, I was been able to refresh my twitter feed a couple of times through the day. Twitter is now my primary source of news and comment and it’s great to be able to keep up with events from around the world. My feed today was dominated by the situation in Ukraine and with the Oscar Pistorius trial. Also my oldest friend Ray – who also happens to be the world’s biggest Beyoncé fan – has just come back from a concert and is rather excited about it!
Sat on my hotel balcony in Yaoundé, Cameroon I’m able to share my view with family and friends. Whilst Instagram is open I have a look back over old pictures: my children over the years; places I’ve visited; holidays; family; friends; occasions; life. It’s wonderful to be reminded of these things and also worrying how quickly they’ve been forgotten. Were it not for this visual record I suspect most of these memories would remain buried in the distant corners the mind.
I call my wife via Skype and catch up on what’s happening back home. She’s at a play date with our daughter and what sounds like 600 other toddlers. We manage a quick catch up before she has to dash away. I can’t wait to be home tomorrow.
All of these little interactions make me incredibly thankful for the way technology has brought me closer to those who are far away. I love that, although I’m on a different continent, I am able to experience events from back home whether they’re my children’s bath time or my best friend’s Beyoncé concert! Technology is good.