[dropcap]O[/dropcap]our world of 24/7 connectedness has become first nature rather than second. For a growing number worldwide some type of internet access is rarely farther away than arm’s length. We go to bed with our phone on the night stand, carry it in our pocket or purse, lay it on the table or desk often the the screen facing us. We can ill afford to miss a ding, beep or buzz, it would seem.
Last summer ABC News carried the amusing but sad story of CEO Bart Lorang of FullContact API in Denver. While on vacation in Egypt, Lorang realized he was looking at his smartphone checking his email–while on camelback in front of the pyramids. (Here’s a shot of Lorang.) Lorang was so shaken he instituted a company policy for “paid, paid vacations” for anyone who would completely unplug from work while on vacation. No voice mail, no email, nothing.
I work in social media. It is my job and I really like it. I enjoy what social media allows by way of relationships and communication. It is too important to business and mission to ignore it.
But, like many other good things, social media can overwhelm to the point of intrusion. This can happen without us even realizing it. Sometimes, it just helps to unplug.
Here are five reasons I plan to unplug from the Internet and all social media on all devices when I go on vacation.
1. I want to be in the moment.
The nature of social media is that we are always aware of what other people will think about what we post online. We write and post photos with an expectation of a like, favorite or comment. This means my mind is not on the people I am with at the time; it’s on who I am not with. I need to be with my family when I am with my family and unplugging is the best way for this to happen.
2. I am not that important
As much as I love online interactions the Internet will continue without me. Perhaps my NSA minders will be able to turn their suspicious eyes to others who are practicing constitutional freedoms.
3. My mind needs rest.
Immersion in social media can create an ADD all its on. The mind can only effectively track so many streams of information. Going from live conversation to Facebook to Twitter to Google+ to LinkedIn to StumbleUpon to Instagram to blogs and back feeds itself. This cycle creates a never ending feedback loop where the feedback is the loop itself. Since we will never reach the end of the Internet both the loop and the feedback can increase without end. It creates tremendous brain drain. I am not convinced our brains were created to be in permanent multitask mode. This vacation will be unitask for me unless I can get to no task.
4. My emotions need to recharge.
Because social media lends itself to rapid-fire conversations in which words are not always guarded emotions can be quickly fired. Without notice we can go from angry to happy to sad to happy to angry in fifteen minutes. Surely this is not a good thing. I need to detox from emotional shifts that come with a constant barrage of news, videos, opinions and images.
5. Did I mention that I work in social media?
It is hard enough to unplug from email and voice mail when out of the office, but working in social media can bring a double curse. Can you imagine a mail delivery person going on vacation from Atlanta to New Orleans only to hit a route bright and early on Monday morning? Or a auto mechanic driving to a mountain cabin for a weekend of rest, but decides to change out an engine at the local shop? I feel the same way about social media while I am on vacation. I have to break from my work, so social has to go for a few days.
What are some things you try to avoid on vacation because it means you are not actually on vacation?