Yesterday I was invited to be a guest speaker at Bournemouth University’s Balance Network event, organised and chaired by Dr. Barbara Neuhofer and Prof. Adele Ladkin to talk about the use of social media in today’s world and how we all rely on it more and more when travelling.

Technologies have had a massive impact on society and transformed how we work, live and experience travel. Social and mobile technologies have enabled people to connect on an unprecedented scale, with any device, anywhere and at any time. They are sold to us as products which will save us time and make our lives easier. As a result of this, we must question if people ever really ‘switch off?’ Do they even want to? And what’s going to happen to our well-being in the future if we become even more connected? These were just some of the topics covered in yesterday’s event, through a series of cutting-edge presentations and an interactive panel discussion.

My view:
I juggle multiple social media accounts on a daily basis at work and use social media in a personal capacity as well. It can be difficult to know how to switch off. Social media doesn’t stop – so where do you draw the line?

I spoke about my experience being on a digital detox for one week a few years back at Champneys Spa and explained that despite finding it eye-opening (and also quite challenging!) I think it’s more important to find balance on a daily basis rather than to ‘binge detox.’ It’s not realistic to cut off for a week at a time and then immerse yourself back into work, emails and social media; you’re just throwing yourself back onto the hamster wheel.

Here are just some of the main views from guest speakers and panellists:

Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis (director of eTourism Lab, Bournemouth University)

  • If he goes on holiday and the hotel doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, he finds it a painful experience.
  • The ‘tourism experience’ has been enhanced because travellers are now able to storify their experience in real-time… none of this taking hours to create a printed photo album malarkey!
  • New research shows restaurant profitability can reduce since the dining experience has lengthened (people arrive and request the Wi-Fi code, check in, take photos of their food, leave a review, etc.)

Dr. Juliet Jain (senior research fellow, University of the West of England)

  • A new government policy is being introduced stating that by 2017, free Wi-Fi will be offered on all trains to assist productivity.
  • Is travel time an opportunity to do something or nothing? If free Wi-Fi is provided on all trains, how will this affect us in our aim to switch off?

Dr. Raian Ali (head of research in computing and informatics, Bournemouth University)

  • Digital addiction is just as much a problem as gambling and alcohol and drug addiction.
  • Cigarette packets come with a warning ‘smoking kills’ – so why isn’t there a warning that pops up on Facebook to tell you that you’ve been using it for too long?

Karen Butters (head of health, safety and wellbeing, Bournemouth University)

  • In a court of law, the onus falls on the employee, not the employer. The employee is responsible for reasonable care of his/her own health and safety and it’s their duty to tell their employer if they’re struggling.
  • Large corporations such as JP Morgan and Barclays have introduced a ‘protected weekend’ policy to discourage people logging in over the weekend, and Daimler has installed software to automatically delete emails when employees are on annual leave.

“The greatest luxury of the 21st century will be dropping off the grid.” This was just one of the quotes used yesterday, highlighting just how precious our offline time has become to us. How do you keep a balance? I’d love to know – tweet me.