“But I can get you on your cell phone, right?” He asked. “Nope,” I said. “I won’t be accessible at all for five days.” “But what if I need you urgently?” He inquired. “Well, Amy will be at the office. I’m sure she’ll manage.”
Whether Hawaii, Napa or Lake Tahoe, these days, when I go on vacation, I make sure it’s a real vacation – none of that modern stuff of “I’m on vacation, but I have my iPhone with me, which is connected to my work email, and since I check my email compulsively every hour, and can’t help but answer emails once I’ve read them, I actually work while on vacation.”
Not that I don’t check my email compulsively. I do. (Still working on that one.) But not while on vacation.
The Internet is great. Every time I google something, I am in awe at the sheer amount of information that is now accessible to me. Back when I was a kid, getting a fraction of this information would have required a special trip to the library. Each time I use Google Translator to write a coherent letter to my elderly Dutch grandma (my Dutch is very basic), I am grateful to technology for helping me have better, more meaningful conversations with her.
Every time my kids use Skype to talk with their grandparents or video chat to stay in touch with friends when they can’t have a play date, each time I reconnect with someone from my past on Facebook, I am reminded of how awesome the Internet is.
But the Internet, Web 2.0, social media and the mobile Web have a dark side. They are fast and they are everywhere – and this is their strength, and how they drastically improve our lives. But this is also their weakness, and danger, and how they significantly lower our quality of life.
Many of us don’t ever disconnect anymore. We are always accessible, always there when someone needs to reach us. When emergency strikes, this is great, but in the vast majority of cases, by allowing ourselves to be so accessible, we are making ourselves vulnerable. We put up with constant interruption, constant stimuli. I don’t think this is goods for us. I think our brains are evolving far more slowly than technology. I think our brains need downtime.
The worst aspect of always being accessible is that we become accessible not just to family and friends, but also to random acquaintances, to marketers, to employers, and to clients.
I don’t know about you, but I do social media for a living, and it’s so very fast and demanding and constantly evolving, that if I didn’t take the occasional break from this intense connectivity, whether by simply going outside WITHOUT A PHONE, or by taking a few days’ break once in a while, I think my brain would explode!
So we spent five days in Hawaii’s Big Island last week (the collage above captures many of the experiences), blissfully disconnected. No Internet, no interruptions, just the four of us, amazing nature, great food, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, and a very relaxing resort and spa.
Now that I’m rested, it’s good to be back.