Could free Wi-Fi end the era of disconnecting on airplanes?


Heaven is one of our last sanctuaries from the connected world. When WiFi is available on a flight, it’s usually unreliable or expensive, keeping most of us in airplane mode. Flying commercials forms a bubble away from life’s normal distractions, where we can focus uninterrupted on the important things, like watching an entire movie without looking at our phones.

Life in the clouds is a utopia free of emails and conference calls, but technological advances are conspiring to end this untethered era.

On February 1, Delta Air Lines will begin offering “Free and fast” WiFi on most of its domestic flights, another milestone in the industry’s quest to improve internet in flight. And the European Union has given member states until June 2023 to reserve 5G frequency bands for aircraft, paving the way for mobile phone connectivity. in flights Exterior.

Delta plans to significantly expand its WiFi service by the end of 2024. Like passengers in jetblueor T-Mobile customers on multiple airlines, those at Delta could stream, navigate and zip from the runway to the sky just as they would on the ground.

The free Wi-Fi announcement made headlines as a blessing a Many. “Of course it’s a good thing for Delta and for customers,” Gary Leff, travel blog author. view from the wing, told me. John Rose, director of risk and security for the travel agency heightHe called it “fantastic,” something travelers will enjoy and make flights go by faster.

“And let’s face it,” Rose added, “you may want to unplug, but you’re also very productive when you have a five-and-a-half hour flight.”

You may want to log off, but.

With the easily accessible internet at our fingertips at all times, you may be familiar with the temptation to connect often being too big to resist. The justifications for being online are endless: there is always work to do, family to communicate with or boredom to save.

Also, our devices are designed be impossible to ignore.

How dangerous is turbulence?

I watched the free WiFi news as a digital jockey apocalypsechasing us towards a permanently online reality we can’t escape.

In the final seconds before a plane takes off from the runway, my adrenaline soars. I’m always racing to download one more podcast, send one more text, judge one more Instagram post. But no matter how much internet you have, it will never be enough.

After takeoff, there is peace. No more endless wells of opportunity, just a digestible amount of hobbies.

At first I thought my shudder had to do with nostalgia: a plane without WiFi sounds romantic. But just like him days of glory of dress for flights long gone, we are long past a time of passengers buried in paperbacks and newspapers. The norm is to find your seat, buckle up and connect to some device.

All-inclusive resorts want you to forget their cheesy reputation

No, it’s not nostalgia; it’s realizing that our forced Internet breaks are healthy.

The downside of login

When we are on the Internet, “we constantly react to external stimuli,” he said ana lembke, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine and chief of Stanford’s Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic. “We are in a state of outward focused expectation…there is a sense of alertness, hypervigilance, expectation.”

It doesn’t matter if you use it to work or check your email, being on the Internet is mentally exhausting. Much of what we do online “requires something from you,” said Russell Clayton, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business, and a performance and wellness coach. “There is a cognitive load on you.”

You are aware of the people who are waiting for your answer. There’s that old article you wanted to read. You are constantly bombarded with companies trying to sell you stuff. they know would you like it. What the blog Cranky Flier notesDelta’s in-flight WiFi is free because airlines can monetize your data.

“That world is made up of algorithms, obviously,” said Oliver Burkeman, author of the book. “Four Thousand Weeks” that talks about making the most of our short lives in a world of impossible demands. “So we are at the mercy of forces that don’t necessarily have our best interests in mind.”

Burkeman argues that the more time we spend in a world shaped by algorithms, the more we will lose our ability to think independently.

Being online has become a default, which “naturally leads to a lack of presence,” he said. You are distracted from the world around you, how you feel, what your neighbor is doing in 34D or what the flight attendant is asking you.

Screens stimulate us in a way “similar to the way intoxicants, such as drugs and alcohol, stimulate us.”

—Anna Lembke

Lembke says something similar. When we don’t let our brain rest, “it deprives us of quieting our mind and focusing on our own body,…our environment, which might be seeping in from the depths of our own brain, uninterrupted by some kind of external stimuli. .”

We need to rest, but it feels impossible. That is nomophobia speaking.

Coined in 2009, nomophobia is short for “non-mobile phone phobia,” an irrational fear of not having your phone.

“It’s the anxiety of being out of touch… of not being able to access your virtual world,” said Larry D. Rosen, a professor emeritus at California State University Dominguez Hills, who has been studying the psychological effects of technology since the mid-1980s. the 1980s. “And we all know it for certain, it’s it hasn’t escaped anyone of any age.”

Rosen says that for many people, being on a plane means being out of touch, “and being out of touch is not comfortable,” he said.

That could be retirement. Lembke says the research clearly shows that screens stimulate us in a way “similar to the way we are stimulated by intoxicants, such as drugs and alcohol.”

“Frequency and quantity are important,” he added. “The more we use, the more we change our brains, the more anxious, dysphoric, irritable, distracted, and the more we need to use over time not to feel good, but just to even out the balance or achieve baseline healthy dopamine. Shooting.”

Once we land, we’ll use our phones to find our AirTagged Baggagemeto find our hotel, to open our hotel rooms with the keys of the mobile phone, calling to go to dinner, looking at the restaurant menu – all of which are genuinely Useful applications.

Hope for a disconnected future

With the astronomical amount of time we spent on our phones for travel and our daily lives, are we doomed to never disconnect? Not quite.

“In the context of our culture, the possibility of being constantly connected is so new,” said Jonathan Malesic, journalist and author of “the end of burnout.”

Malesic reminds us that most adults have a vivid memory of what it was like to live without mobile devices. Yes, we can tune out, but “we just have to try so much harder,” he said. “And there are many forces that push us towards a constant connection. But it can be done.”

In his book “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence,” Lembke makes the case for “self-linking” strategies to give ourselves a better chance of fighting the allure of our devices. They can be mental limits that we set, such as limiting Internet use to two hours a day, or physical (keeping the phone in hand luggage).

Poor or expensive WiFi was a barrier we didn’t know we needed. Now we have to invent our own barriers.

Lembke hopes that as we begin to appreciate the dark sides of our relationship with technology, we begin to create a new digital label with intention.

“Create spaces that are device-free and sacred,” he said. “Spaces where people come together without devices and they do it intentionally and appreciate the need for it.”

In the meantime, if you’re worried about getting called out for disconnecting from the internet during your flight, Leff has a solution that should buy you a couple of years.

“Tell them it wasn’t working on the flight,” he said.

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