You might take a vacation this summer but have you ever taken a digital vacation? If not, you’re not as relaxed as you should be. It’s time to unplug.
It’s summertime and the livin is easy. I hope that all of you are going to take a nice vacation, the beach, the mountains, family reunion, exotic locale. Americans don’t get much and what we do get might not be as relaxing as it could be if we are still electronically tethered.
And by tethered I don’t just mean to your office although that is a big part of it. How much news do you read a day? How much of it is bad news? All of it? Most of it at least. And bad news pisses us off, winds us up and steals our relaxation.
So let’s not just ignore our e-mails but all of that bad news too.
My best friend (hi Joey!) has a place in Bar Harbor, Maine. She and her husband and their two puppies spend summers up there. Last summer I went up for the first time. We spent our mornings hiking, our afternoons watching the Tour de France, and our evenings, cooking, drinking and talking.
I did not read anything that was not hiking, cycling, or food related. I have never been so relaxed! It was glorious. No bad news, no annoying relative’s blogs, just reading about things I enjoy.
The Office Won’t Crumble
I know that you are a valuable, vital member of your office, whether that office is a cubicle or a factory floor. But they got along before you and probably wouldn’t fold if you moved on to greener pastures.
So why should your off site presence be so important when you’re lounging on a beach somewhere? Well, because your co-workers and boss are lazy. They could figure out a problem for themselves but it would be faster to call, text, or e-mail you.
But they can’t if you don’t let them. Lie if you have to. There is no cell service where you are, you dropped your phone into the ocean trying to take a selfie, a street hustler won it from you in a game of dice. Just make something up!
Annoying People Will Disappear
In June I spent a week at my parent’s place on the middle of 35 wooded acres in Indiana. Before I left, the news was full of stories about complete nutter Rachel Dolezal. I don’t know why she did what she did, maybe she doesn’t either and I really didn’t care.
But you could not avoid her. For a week, orange was the new black and she was everywhere. I decided to ignore the news while I was away and when I came back, Rachel and her bizarre antics had disappeared from the news. It was great! Like she never existed. The Kardashians were still around though. I guess it would take a Rip Van Winkle length vacation to make the beautiful dream of a world without them come true. Alas.
You Will Be Less Pissed Off
Before I went to Maine last year, I would read a relative’s navel gazing blog every morning. Just out of habit and nosiness more than anything else really. But it always put me in a bad mood. Her blog was nothing more than a platform for her to whine about problems entirely of her own making that she complained about endlessly but took zero steps to fix.
Because her crap fest blog wasn’t an app on my Kindle, I didn’t bother to read it while I was there. And when I came back, I kept not reading it. And my life improved because of it.
In my day to day life I read The Guardian every morning. This also pisses me off. TTP, NSA, corporate donations buying legislation. This is the stuff that winds me right up. Stuff that I write about so other people will get pissed off too and we can work to do something about it.
None of this was gone when I came back but it was nice, for one week, not to read and think about it. So instead of getting spun up by these things, I spent my mornings taking long walks on the country lanes that surround my parent’s house with my Mom. Healthier and more fun.
You Will Spend More Time Talking
Because I didn’t spend two hours or more a day reading the news, I spent that time talking with my parents. We talked about some political stuff but we also talked about the lilly pads taking over their pond, what we wanted to eat for dinner that night, what they do when their grandson comes to visit. Stuff we don’t really talk about on the phone.
So I got to know my parents a little better than I did before I arrived. Imagine what you might learn about your spouse, your parents, your children, if you spent the time that you normally spend on-line, talking to them.
You Will Spend More Time Reading
While my Mom and I love talking, we are essentially quiet people. Comfortable with silences. So in the afternoon, she and I would sit on the deck overlooking the pond and read. I read three books between the two plane trips and the actual vacation.
And none of them were taxing reads, although there is nothing wrong with tackling Ulysses on vacation if you’ve always wanted to. I read a book about Midwestern food, one about French food, and one by intrepid travel writers about food from every corner of the world.
Your Relaxation Will Last Longer
I will always read The Guardian because they cover issues that are important to me. But I didn’t read Buzzfeed while I was gone and haven’t read it since I got back and don’t plan to. It’s mindless click bait and the comments annoy me.
Because I rested my mind and blood pressure while I was on vacation and gave up one source of on-line aggravation when I got back, I didn’t immediately feel the steel gate come down when I landed back in New York. You know that feeling, like you were never even away.
I’m back four days as of writing this, three of which I have spent working and I still feel pretty rested and relaxed. I think it’s down to not only the change of routine but the feeling of being more deeply disconnected because I unplugged. Or maybe it was just the wine. Who am I to know?
Something Magical Might Happen
I don’t think that either of these things were directly affected by me not reading the news, but I don’t have proof that they weren’t either. I may have untapped abilities that I was not aware of. BUT, when I got back SCOTUS upheld the ACA and legalized marriage for everyone who has found someone they love enough to take the ultimate plunge with. Not saying it was me, but it might have been.
So when you go away this summer, take a digital vacation and see if we can eradicate the Kardashians once and for all.