It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the notion of mobile phones in the surf. I know it would be really useful for those whose jobs mean they're on call etc., by giving them more flexibility in the water, but still, the idea fills me with dread. I accept that it's inevitable, but it sucks.
Voluntarily and involuntarily, our lives these days are so connected to friends, social networks, knowledge, news and media. W're constantly looking, listening, watching, reading, absorbing, responding, capturing, posting and sharing, and I'm totally part of that and I think there's lots that is wonderful about it. I mean, I'm writing this on online an online blogging site, using social media video sharing capabilities of YouTube, with text messages popping up on my screen and two email accounts open in my browser, all while listening to Cat Power via Spotify. So, yeah. Because I have so little discipline when it comes to being logged on, I really love those moments when I'm unavoidably out of range and offline.
Going for walks, flying, driving in the country, surfing... there are so few spaces left that are unavoidably disconnected from the Web and the networks we belong to as part of it, that they've become oddly sacred.
So the possibilities raised by this innovation in mobile communications technology embedded in Gabriel Medina's board bum me out.
I can totally see the potential of such communication as a training tool, but then technological advancements in surfing continue to be all about high and elite performance - something so few of us ever truly achieve. In everyday surfing, we get enough feedback from those round us to know when we're doing well or badly, and I think that's about all we (I?) really need. For athletes, it's different, but for those of us who do it for the love alone, surfing isn't all about performance. It's about not caring about that, about enjoying the moment, enjoying the feeling of riding waves. Or it is for me.
Or it should be.
As well as the constant connection, the sense that we need constant feedback on our surfing is terrible. That we need always to be judged on how others saw our abilities or capacities. Yes, Medina is an elite athlete, so that's different for him, and that's fine. But I'm quite sure there are days when being removed from that is an incredibly welcome respite: to be alone, away from coaches, fans, social media, and photographers; to not worry about how your every moves looks or could be improved.
Considering how much it means to a mortal like me, that must be a special kind of moment.
Then again, I'm not a hyper-competitive, world class athlete in a highly commodified individual sport, so truly, I could be so very, very wrong about that.