Last weekend saw Mrs Romance and me zoom off the edge of the digital map and away from all things Net-based. We were visiting friends in a little town in rural New South Wales called Putty.
In this oddly named little town of no more than 200 people, there was no 3G, our phones had no reception and internet coverage was limited. Our friends don’t even have a TV. Mrs Romance began to panic. She was a virtual fish out of water and she was gulping for bytes.
After a while, however, we both settled in and realised there was nothing else for it but to take stock of our environment. We sat back, relaxed and enjoyed our friends’ company. And what friends. And what an environment!
Putty is a tiny township spread out across the Australian bushland. Rocky ridges, little streams, gumtree forests, vast fields. Coming from the cramped city and a tiny apartment, the feeling of space was incredible.
It must be what an agoraphobe feels when they come out of their broom closet and find themselves on a football field.
After the initial shock, we embraced that feeling freedom. It’s something you only get when you’re away from everything, and the stars are shining brighter than any lights of a city highrise.
Not being hooked up to the Net left us feeling blind and stranded at first, but very soon we found our pre-digital sea legs again. That also was liberating.
Our lovely friends nurtured us with a combination of excellent food, drink and conversation. And of course their very cute pets. We felt the grime and clutter of city living wash away. Soon we’d forgotten all about inboxes and Instagram.
Now, back in the Smoke, we feel like new.
So if you’re feeling bogged down by emails or suffocated by social media, just go away. Have a digital retreat. It’s done us the world of good.
And don’t worry. The internet will still be there when you come back!
Have you ever taken a digital retreat? Where did you go?