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A treat or a chore? Surviving ‘digital free’ (Half Day Creative)

By 27th November 2017 No Comments

I’d been racking my brains to think of something a little different to take me out of my comfort zone for my next half day creative. My colleagues know how much I love food, and I may even have a reputation for being over indulgent! I have, however, never been for a meal alone as I believed this would make me feel quite uneasy and I didn’t feel I would full enjoy the food. Working for a digital marketing agency, with technology always being the focus of pushing digital boundaries, I wanted to make the experience more difficult for myself by also going digital free for the afternoon.

I planned to do my half day creative the week previous to when I actually did it, but realised going digital free required advance preparation! I firstly needed to buy a disposable camera so I could take snaps of the experience without my trusty phone. This in itself was the first challenge – I visited a number of supermarkets and other retailers without any joy, before finding the last one in stock at Argos.

I’m so used to the convenience of paying for purchases on my debit card that I quite often don’t carry cash. To make my experience more authentic, I went on another mini marathon to find a bank that was open, as using a cash machine is too much of a mod-con. I asked a random passer by to take a snap of me going into the bank to document my experience, which I got a few strange looks for doing!

Armed with just my disposable camera and pure cash, I set off on a country walk to a pub, local to where I live in the Peak District. I attempted, rather amateurishly, to take a few selfies of myself on my walk to the pub, which is easier said than done. There was obviously no way of knowing if I’d just taken a photo of the sky or my forehead…. I’d have to wait to get the photos developed to find out.

Upon arriving at the pub, I felt I made the experience more awkward for myself, by instead of asking for a table for one, asking for a table ‘all by myself, without anyone near me!’ I sat down and quickly made my food selection, so as not to have to prolong the wait in isolation for the meal to arrive. As it was a Tuesday lunchtime, I was hoping the pub would be relatively quiet but The Old Hall in Chinley has an excellent reputation locally and was bustling with passing hikers and village locals.

After what was probably only a 10-15 minute wait, although I’m not sure how long it was as I usually use my phone as a watch, I was distracted from feeling as though I looked like I’d been stood up on a date by the delicious aroma for ham hock fritter with a poached egg. I asked the waitress to take a photo of me eating in isolation, to which her initial response was, I’ve never used one of these kind of old fashioned cameras before, how does it work?! For mains, I went for a huge homemade burger, which was also amazingly delicious. The food being yummy did make me feel much more at ease eating alone. As did the kind staff members who took multiple snaps of me to help document my experience.

I did feel totally lost without my phone (even though I didn’t actually need it). I felt somehow bare initially. However, after a while I found it quite a blessing and it made me more inclined to speak to other diners about what I was doing; many felt they too would find being without mod-cons quite a challenge.

After the experience, the final challenge the following day was to find somewhere that I could get the photos processed. For this part, I claimed defeat and asked Google for help! I then had a tense 2 week long wait for the photos to be processed only to find they were totally unflattering and many shots even had my head chopped off! I don’t think I’d opt for going digital free again in a hurry.

Author Gemma Bowman

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