14 august 2016, hyper-connected

My efforts to stay unconnected during our hungarian holiday were not shared by the millennial behaviour of my two sons, now 12 and about-to-turn 15. The delights of the hundertwasser museum in vienna are many (not least an oddly-juxtaposed martin parr exhibition), but when later asked what the best thing was, the younger said "great wi-fi". Indeed apart from a cursory 5-minute walkthrough, that was where he spent most of his time; which could be largely said of the holiday. Whilst a combination of wonky wi-fi at the campsite and a luscious lake (balaton of course) kept them off-screen some of the time, once we headed to sopron, gyor (a quixotic return to childhood) and the viennese and hungarian capitals, they were largely lost to us. The bigger one is more sophisticated and open to real-world cultural experiences, but they are both lost to you tube channels, their instagram stories, twitter, constant what's apping and the rest of it (he says a tad ironically in his blog). Not that it's all bad. For the big one at least the virtual world is a way to broadcast his life experience, which he savours as much as anyone, and they both interact constantly (if inexplicably) with good friends not random strangers, so there are relationships and social capital being built. Their virtual worlds are not static or passive, they are multi-layered and creative. Their minecraft worlds are art hundertwasser would recognise and a labour the size of building st. petersburg. A film they made is exceptional. They are incredibly adept at finding information and solving computer problems; they see easily through brands and prices, checking everything online. Our virtual worlds though are totally separate. We don't even use the same platforms: tv, email and blogs, even websites sitting at a computer, are rare for them. I am learning; yet even on twitter we have utterly different experiences and inputs, a small version of the bigger "echo-chamber" problem of social media, as people wrap around them the familiar and agreeable and are ever-less exposed to challenge or other views and news. This all isn't to say we didn't have a wonderful, relaxing and interesting fortnight, which we did, but there were perhaps two experiences going on at the same time. Something you can't now get away from even on holiday.