As we descend yet again into the subway station and our cell phone loses all hopes at receiving a signal, we breathe a small sigh of relief at our momentary communication-stillness that we experience. No calls coming in, not calls going out. It's a nice break from the chaos of the majority of our waking day. And of course as we emerge into the daylight and our cellphone reclaims that precious wireless signal, our inbox and call log is flooded with new messages, desperately hoping to catch up from the temporary downtime. This got us thinking about those all important "tech vacations" we all take, no matter how short, and the degree to which we truly embrace the meaning. How devoted do you get to giving up your tech in order to attain some temporary peace of mind?
Below are our three interpretations of the tech vacation. Any three of these could be seen lasting as little as an hour to as long as you'd like — perhaps the rest of your lifetime if you're daring (and a bit crazy).
The Noncommittal Vacation:
This is when you have your fully functioning devices lying around, waiting to be used whenever the mood strikes. This tech vacation is hardly a true vacation at all because it does not force oneself to truly sacrifice their connectivity unless they find it beneficial at that immediate point. Instead, they think they're taking a break when really the tech's ease of availability will often be too tempting for them to not simply open up the laptop just to check that most recent email they heard come in over the phone.
The Practical Vacation:
Our version of the practical vacation is when one were to outlaw all forms of technology that are not considered essential such as emergency phone contacts. This means no internet, texting, etc.. We've tried this a few times and it was certainly an eye-opening experience when you consider how much time in the day is opened up when you are not helplessly checking your RSS feed. As difficult as this may seem to do, it still allows you to have your phone for those emergency contacts yet it prevents you from any leisurely activity you can think of. And remember, these true vacations only work when strictly imposed. You should really allow yourself to decompress without the stress of thinking when to check Facebook or Twitter.
The Saintly Vacation:
Some of us always choose to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to these kinds of things and will do everything in their power to do so. Blogger Patrick Rhone of Minimal Mac once made a post about having lunch with a friend whose job status placed him as a crucial figure in multiple projects currently under development. Even when they first met, his phone was ringing off the hook, begging to be answered with whatever work-related issue was at hand. But Patrick's friend instead decided to silence his phone and place it in Airplane Mode. This cut the data signal and let him ignore the incoming calls so that he may dedicate his complete time to his friend. To us, as nice as this sentiment sounds, it seems very difficult to realistically achieve. We know our work would start to wonder if we hadn't answered our phone or returned calls for an hour during the workday. And we'd feel really guilty to our coworkers if we did to that. But is this further proof at how overworked we are? Why can we not take complete breaks from technology, if only for an hour, to speak with a friend?
We're curious to hear from you. When you choose to go on a tech vacation, no matter how long, what is your methodology? Are you gung-ho, refusing to allow even the most pressing of phone calls come through? Or are you much less strict about it and go on vacation only when it seems to be a slow news day? We'd love to hear your approach to cutting out the tech and how beneficial it was for you and your friends/family.