Escapism

There are few places left on earth that have not been touched, or that cannot be reached by the digital devices we use for our convenience – the consequence of cellphones and the 24-hour news cycle is that even the most peaceful, hole-in-the wall places are unavoidably affected by the world, and the turmoil that envelops it.

Picture laying in an empty apartment, three stories above ground level, off a side street in Florence. The sky bleeds tinges of purple as dawn arrives, and orange bands of light shine on the wall as sunlight peeks throught the blinds. It’s all silence, just the sound of your own breathing.

Now add a laptop to the room, with an internet connection. Friends from Seattle and Australia are calling you over Skype, and it’s wonderful to hear their voice – but your email box is full of reminders about work, and BBC headlines tell you things are disintegrating in Nepal. Out in the street, you get a call over your cell phone from your mother, which is nice, but part of that easy connection takes away from the experience of being far from home.

When it comes to hearing bad news from far-off lands, we have a responsibility not to stick our head in the sand; sometimes simply being informed is the best thing we can do. But constantly bearing in mind the burdens of today can leave us feeling crushed and cynical. Similarly, constantly being entangled in the communication web leaves us with little time to reflect on ourselves or the places we inhabit – there has to be a break, there has to be a moment of escape.

When the stationary life gets too much for me, I find my escape in pictures – taking in images of Italy from a friend’s blog, scenes from Paris taken by photographer Rion, or ‘Today’s Pictures’ on Slate. Photography takes a moment and saves it – and snapshots from places we’ve never been fuel our imagination to create a space that is fantastic, and more importantly, that is untouchable.

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