For the first time in my life I made Spring Break plans – a couple of friends and I took a road trip to Savannah and Charleston – and I was determined to make this a real vacation for myself. I decided to help my travels feel more like that vacation by doing a serious tech/social media detox for the duration of the week.
On our way out the door, my roommate saw my computer on my desk and told me not to forget it. I said I wasn’t bringing it with me. She looked at me like I had grown a second head and that head told her I now hated chocolate, kittens, and all things good in the world.
“I’m taking a real vacation,” I said. “No laptop.”
I’ve come to think of my laptop as a sort of ball-and-chain in my life, tethering me to all the work I have to do for school and my internship. Sure, it can be for fun/meaningless internet browsing as well, but since I’m usually doing that to procrastinate from taking care of my responsibilities, even the fun part now has an ominous work-undertone. I knew if I brought my computer with me I would feel pressured to use it for work…so I left it.
I brought my cell phone with me, but I refused to let that dominate my time or pressure me to work either. I kept it charged for potential emergencies, but I didn’t let myself use it for any bored social media scrolling or work/internship email-checking. (Actually, that Heelmail outage was a great help. All I had to do was wait to reconfigure the email settings on my phone until after I got back to school, and I didn’t have to feel compelled to keep checking it on my vacation.)
I didn’t use Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, or any of the other social media sites I normally frequent while on Spring Break. I only pulled out my phone to text family and friends when I was traveling from one city to the next. (Ok, and once or twice to use the GPS to navigate in the unfamiliar downtown areas.)
Overall this was one of the best vacations I have ever had, and I believe that had a lot to do with my mass-comm detox. I feel like my life is really wrapped up in work all the time – I have a Sakai message about a school assignment, an email from my internship about a new project, a text from my boss asking me to pick up a shift – to a degree made possible by our mass-comm technologies. Leaving the tech behind helped me leave work behind, which allowed me to have a much more relaxing vacation.
I highly recommend ditching the computer/tablet/cell on your next getaway.