Hello there,

We’re out on the road traveling a bit for some time off. We are visiting Japan, and we’ll be here for a few weeks. As usual with being on vacation, I have some time and space for some thoughts to unfold (when not getting lost, or sweating buckets in the humidity). You have been warned!

Before I left, I purchased a second-hand digital camera, intending to bring it on the trip, take a few photos, and then sell it when the trip was over. I’ve been enjoying myself, but I will say that, like anything, if you don’t practice a skill for a while, it’s a little hard to get back into it and be immediately pleased with the results [1].

All said, I’m enjoying having this little camera for a few reasons.

First, I can’t immediately do anything with the photos. Well, I can look at the photo. But I cannot send it to anyone, make it my phone background, or post it anywhere on social media.

Next, it’s nice to have a whole gamut of techniques and capacities in the camera. Shutter speed, aperture, focus tools, colour simulations.

But most of all, I also like not having to look at my phone. My phone, which has endless distractions for me, distractions that I have been trained to consider at a moment's notice.

Now, I’m left wondering what else I could do that would replace my phone. Pen and paper comes to mind, but I’ve been (sort of) doing that since April, with a nice (and now ratty) Hobonichi journal I bought. But, generally, I won’t be discarding digital note-taking systems that auto-sync between my phone and computer for a while [2].

To be honest, and I know I’m sounding curmudgeonly, but I find myself increasingly estranged by how we use our phones. Occasionally, I feel like I’m watching something very unreal happening, such as when I’m on transit and every possible person is staring at their phone [3]. It is seriously weird. I don’t mean to exclude myself from others with the previous statement and create an I—it distinction; I use my phone plenty as well. I’m just thrown by it now and then.

Anyway, I’ll keep taking some naive photos and see where this camera takes me. Or rather, we’ll see where I take it.

  1. Thankfully, all the technical knowledge is there still, but making good photos doesn’t just come back. ↩︎

  2. And yet, a creeping voice is ruminating at the back of my head — what if you stopped taking notes, timeblocking, etc. This thought experiment might have something to do with my falling asleep to Alan Watts on the plane over here. ↩︎

  3. This observation is not a response to Japan-specific stimuli—I don't think I see the usage of phones here as any different from at home (other than that there are more people) ↩︎