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Thursday, June 09, 2005


It's all Greek to me

A six-day gap between blog postings can be explained by a short visit to northern Greece.

Normally, whenever I am away anywhere, it is not long before I try to track down an internet connection to check my e-mails, visit favourite websites and add another blog posting. Not so this time.

Compared with most other developed European countries, Greece has an unusually high level of mobile phone ownership but an unusually low level of internet penetration. The reason why becomes obvious once you spend any length of time in Greece.

The Greeks are among the most sociable people on the planet. Mobile phones are an aid to sociability (or at least they are when the Greeks use them), enabling people to meet and foster relationships. The internet, on the other hand, is essentially a solitary pursuit. The idea of sitting alone in front of a computer screen for long periods of time is anathema to most Greeks. In the company of Greek people, I soon lost any compulsion to go online.

The virtual relationships we create over the internet are no substitute for the real thing. This ersatz sociability was satirised over forty years ago in Tony Hancock's
The Radio Ham.

I returned from Greece nicely chilled out, to a large backlog of e-mails but no anxieties. I'll still be e-mailing and blogging, of course. But I'm more aware that these devices are an adjunct to life rather than a substitute for it.

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