x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Endangered: me-time

Technology is getting in the way of us switching off from the world, with the prospect of driverless "offices" on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai commute.

Those who feel the need to switch off from the world – and that’s all of us at one time or another – are facing a diminishing capacity to do so. In the halcyon days before mobile phones, any time one was in transit was generally time to spend as one wished, contemplating the universe or even one’s own navel. But then the mobile phone spawned a generation wedded to their Blackberries and iPhones.

For a while, commercial flights remained bastions of me-time, thanks to the safety rule that mobile phone use could interfere with navigation systems. But even that is no more, with many airlines offering wi-fi connectivity even as passengers hurtle through the stratosphere.

There are not many things to commend the drive between Abu Dhabi and Dubai but one of them was the prospect of more than an hour when one could ignore the outside world. Incoming calls could be brushed off with: “Can’t talk. Driving. Safety, you know. Bye.”

But now even that is under siege. A driverless car being developed by Regus and Rinspeed will turn into a fully-connected office, seating up to four. Besides the loss of time out, this raises other issues. Such as how do you storm out of a meeting when you’re travelling at 140 kph on the E11?