Yeoh Siew Hoon shares a note of caution about mobile technology and how it could affect your mental health.
One of the things I promised myself, after I gave up fulltime employment to become a solo warrior, was to travel less and spend more time at home.
The time, I vowed, had come for me to put down roots and lead some form of a normal, stable life.
My friends laughed when I said that.
They obviously know me better than I know myself. Because since I became a freelance journalist/advisor/communicator, I have spent more time on the road than at home.
I blame it on the new technology that is making it so easy for folks like me to be anywhere, anytime and be able to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime and, most importantly, be able to deliver on my projects on time, from wherever I am.
Asia, in particular, is a wired warrior’s dream. Most cities are so well connected – from their airports to Internet cafes to coffee bars. Today, in Asia, broadband and wireless access is no longer considered a benefit in any business hotel, but a minimum standard – the way spas have become almost obligatory facilities in any decent five star hotel or resort.
Travelling these last two weeks around Europe though have been an enlightening experience.
At Charles de Gaulle airport, you’re lucky to find your way around, let alone find a wireless hot spot.
The only hot spot you will find at this sprawling, confusing airport is the one in front of immigration and customs officers who have an unsatiable curiosity to find out what you do, what you intend to do and how long you intend to do what you do in their country.
Okay, I exaggerate a little but when I found myself in St Tropez, at a charming little hotel called La Mandarine, I thought I was back in the dark ages circa early ‘90s.
The only access, I was told, was through the phone line. To get to the phone line, I had to move the bed (two single beds made to look like one by having a bedsheet tucked in very tightly around them), crawl on the floor and use a special phone cord with an adaptor, the likes of which I hadn’t seen in a while.
After all that, it didn’t work anyway.
Thus, because it was so hard to work in St Tropez, I was forced to be irresponsible and enjoy the delights of this French Riviera resort.
Zurich airport was another story. There are wireless hot spots and guess what, it is part of the Wireless Broadband Alliance of which Starhub, my service provider, is a member. I thought I had hit jackpot and spent a furious hour, catching up on four days of e-mails at the airport on transit to Munich.
That night, as I sat sipping beer brewed by the world’s oldest brewery in a beer garden in Freising and had time for contemplation as one is wont to do over beer, I realised I had fallen into the trap of an urban, mobile worker.
Mobile technology has made us working, walking workers 24 by 7. We may think it frees us but it traps us – especially those who depend on it for a living.
That night, I drank more beer than I have ever done in my entire life.
The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia’s most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.
Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company’s mission is “Content, Communication, Connection”.
She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published “Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries”. Her motto is ‘free to do, and be’.
Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460
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