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Phones Down, PLEASE!

Credit: Ally Cott

In December we went on a live aboard trip about 100km north of Tromsø. As we were deep in the Arctic winter we just had a couple of hours of daylight during which we were snorkelling with killer whales. The few of us that were divers then went diving during the polar nights, which filled about two hours of the long dark hours on the boat.

Time would pass in the communal area: a dining table and two sofas. The 20 hour darkness and the four hours of snorkelling in extreme cold made me very tired. There were 13 people on the boat and 4 of us are good friends travelling together but I made the effort to socialise with the others. To my dismay, they were all staring at their phones and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling… they had been like that for the previous 2 hours and would continue for another 4. They occasionally posted a picture of the trip and the others would mumble nice picture without looking up.

After a couple of attempts to start a conversation (face-to-face rather than over chat) I decided to go find my friends and the board game Saboteur. It is a fun card game that you can play with up to 10 players, so we asked if anyone else wanted to join in. We had to repeat the question three times to get a reply: “No, thanks”. Only another guest who turned out to be a keen boardgames player joined us. After 3 rounds our laughter and joy attracted another player. I was shocked by how obsessed people are by their smart phones. There was nothing to do on the boat so they all filled their time by just scrolling and staying connected. On a liveaboard well past the arctic circle, in these amazing fjords with northern lights, tiny screens are still more interesting.

I have been on liveaboards before but never experienced this, mostly as we were always in the middle of the sea with no internet or phone connection. I probably would be like that as well, if I had a smart phone, and that is scary. So for now, with this threat so vivid, I will hold tight to my loyal Nokia dumb-phone.

Credit: Ally Cott


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