Is the internet taking the charm and adventure out of life?

A big question. But at least consider this scenario: while staying in a village in France, you stumble upon the ruins of a small church, with not an information board to be seen.

Back at your humble accommodation that evening, you dream up an enterprising scheme. You will make it your mission tomorrow to seek out a curate or the most linguistically advanced local in the village tavern to see what they know about the church, when it was built, and so on. It’s about more than the church: your fired-up curiosity will be your excuse to interact with locals who will be won over by your interest and almost unfeasibly happy to help.

Except, of course, you don’t do any of that. Your humble accommodation has an internet connection, so you google the village and find that someone, somewhere has written about the church and its history.

Question solved. But where’s the fun?

In fact, a time will come when wifi wafts across every rural expanse of Europe, and old buildings will have QR codes plastered on them. One swipe with your smartphone, and every detail you could possibly wish to know (unless you’re after postgrad doctorate-level info) will flash up on screen.

You won’t have to go to the trouble of doing any traditional research. Except, research is often fun – the fun being in the chase, rather than what you end up with. It gets you talking to experts, librarians or blokes on barstools.

With the internet, information about every explored spot on earth is there for your perusal. Even if you’ve done real old-fashioned graft to learn about a place, some upstart will hear you mention it, tap on their tablet and summon up facts, figures and what-not, many of which might trump yours.

Suppose that long ago you enjoyed a holiday in one of the planet’s lesser-known crannies, to which you want someday to return, and in the meantime you have a couple of fraying photos to fondly remind you of it? But unless you resist the temptation to look at the internet images of the sights, when you eventually make it back there it’ll almost be too familiar. The internet has stripped away the mystique.


Distillery in Calvados, Normandy