Summer Challenge: Leave Your Phone at Home

Photo CC-BY-SA Ruth Suehle
Photo CC-BY-SA Ruth Suehle

I have a lot of lucky Facebook friends who get to go on some awesome vacations. I know this because the first sign of summer is that my news feed fills up with up-to-the-minute photos of sandy beaches, fruity drinks, and amusing limbo contest outcomes. I like all these things, but I don’t want to see them–until you come back.

You’re a geek, I’m a geek. We love our devices. We love our connection to the world. And we love it because it lets us share with each other. I get it, I really do. But here’s my challenge to you:

This summer, leave your phone at home. No excuses, including:

I can’t ignore my work email!
You have one of two problems: either you think you are far more important than you are, or you need to make a hit-by-a-bus contingency plan for your job. The company can do without you for a week. Your personal email will still be there when you get back, too. Vacation is for vacating.

But I’ll have too much email when I get back!
And you’ll deal with it. If your job is so critical to the continued functioning of humanity that you can’t put it down for a week and catch up later, you don’t have time to waste reading this blog. Block out time on the day or two after you return for going through what you missed. You’ll probably find a lot of it can go straight to the trash, unless you’re really hoping that birthday cake from last Tuesday is still in the break room.

* Bonus points for the brave: The true vacation warrior option is to declare email bankruptcy. You set your out of office message to say that upon your return, you will be deleting all of the emails received while you were gone (thus “email bankruptcy”) and to please get in touch with you afterwards. While I know people who have done this successfully, I have not yet levelled up to this skill.

I just want to check in on Facebook!
No, you don’t. That’s your excuse for “I want to make my friends jealous with my pictures of mai tais and belly flops.” All you’re missing on Facebook is the same old cat pictures and “share this if you care” glurge. Is that really a better use of your time than the vacation you’re paying good money and time for?

I need it for the camera!
Get a real camera. Seriously. You probably even have one collecting dust. I don’t care how good your phone is–the real camera will take better pictures. And if you do need to buy one, consider it an excuse to geek out over some new tech while you pick one out. Take your camera and snap some memories. But don’t show them to me until you get home.

I need Google Maps!
It is a gosh-darn miracle that we all managed to navigate strange places before Google Maps was invented. How in the world did anybody ever get home?! Teach the kids how to use an actual map made with paper. It’s a learning opportunity! …if you can remember how yourself.

I have to post on my blog every week!
Schedule them. Your blog system has this built in. That’s not even a good attempt at an excuse.

I want to read my Kindle on the plane!
OK, this is the one concession I’ll give you. You can take a Kindle or Kobo e-ink type screen so that you don’t have to carry as many books and can still read in the sun. But no turning on the wifi.

You get, what? Two, maybe three weeks of vacation a year at most? And you’re going to use them staring at a 4.5″ screen? You’re also going to have one less bag to carry when you realize just how much space all those chargers take. This is that “work-life balance” thing everyone’s been clamoring for. Get a little more life in your balance.

This summer, un-geek a bit for a week. I promise, you can do it.

Get the GeekDad Books!

   

By day, Ruth works to make open source software communities better. The rest of the time, she makes things, which means her husband and kids know to watch out for stray sewing pins and to ask before eating anything made of fondant.