‘Best job in the world’ winner Ben Southall urges people to disconnect from technology

Social Media was intended to bring us humans together but it even teared many of us apart from reality, each other, what really matters in life, even from humanity …

Another “known” example of this sad consequence is the “Cambridge Analytics” case (check out the documentary on Netflix)

Social media can bring people together if used correctly by the user and with respect for the users’ privacy by the initiator (company) of the social media platform.

Something to take into consideration or at least reflect about when “disconnecting” a few moments…

ABC Gold Coast By Michael Saunders

Updated 22 Jul 2019, 11:03pm

Ben Southall

PHOTO: Ben Southall at his home in Currumbin Valley on the Gold Coast. (ABC Gold Coast: Michael Saunders)

England’s Ben Southall was once the envy of the entire planet after he was awarded “the best job in the world” as a caretaker of Queensland’s Hamilton Island in 2009.

Key points:

  • Ben Southall beat more than 34,000 applicants from around the world to become the winter caretaker on Hamilton Island
  • The role put him in the limelight as he shared his daily duties on the tropical island on social media
  • Southall now helps people disconnect from technology and social media

The six-month position made him a viral internet sensation and he soon found himself rubbing shoulders with A-list celebrities including Cameron Diaz and Oprah Winfrey.

But as he marked 10 years since taking up the job that changed his life, Southall said more people needed to disconnect from their devices and embrace the real world.

We want people to disconnect from digital technology,” Southall said.

“I know that marketing digital technology was the feeder for me coming to Australia, but we are so saturated with it these days and it detracts so much from that personal human interaction.”

Southall, 44, still has the same energetic personality and sense for adventure that won him the dream job which was part of a marketing campaign by Tourism Queensland.

He beat more than 34,000 video applicants from 201 countries for the job, which made him an original influencer who documented every day of his new life through social media.

“It was the best job in the world, but it was also the busiest job in the world,” Southall said.

Ben Southall wins his dream job

PHOTO: Ben Southall was announced the winner of the ‘Best job in the world’ competition in 2009. (Supplied: Tourism Queensland)

“I was conscious the role was being watched by the world’s media, so I enforced a high work ethic throughout, resulting in long hours and late nights but great results.”

From sea change to tree change

These days Southall has traded the beach for the bush, living in the Gold Coast’s Currumbin Valley with his wife Sophie and their son, Atlas.

The pair made the tree change earlier this year, after spending six years living in Brisbane.

“Sophie and I decided if we are going to celebrate what Australia has on offer, we can get the city environment anywhere in the world, so why don’t we just move out and use this beautiful part of the world?” he said.

“It’s really nice to have this beautiful life in the [Currumbin] Valley.

“If I want to I can be in Burleigh Heads in 12 minutes and enjoy the beach, or I can look up the mountain and within five minutes of leaving my driveway I can be on an amazing trail run.”

While the setting has changed from palm trees to gum trees, Ben and Sophie’s thirst for adventure is still as strong as ever after starting their own travel company, Best Life Adventures.

With Southall as expedition director, the company takes clients to remote locations across the globe to help them disconnect from technology and connect with nature.

“We love to take people to places where they can’t get connected with technology,” he said.

“[Instead] they have to be there in the moment and share these experiences with other people.”

Looking back now would Southall still describe the role he had in Queensland 10 years ago as the best job in the world?

“I would have to say it is pretty close,” he said.

“It was an amazing opportunity which was the right fit for me.

“I know how lucky I am to have won the gig in the first place and I have been lucky enough to build a career full of adventures off the back of it.”