Vacation – A Changing Definition

I am almost 41 years old, and in my life, I have seen an explosion of technology change the way we live.  Along with that explosion, certain things have basically become extinct, either because something new has taken its place or because technology has rendered it obsolete.

For example, caller ID ruined the prank call, a staple of youth in the past.  iTunes has turned every song in to a single and the compact disc will soon be for audiophiles only. 

Another casualty of technology is vacation.  I actually looked up the definition and found the following:

an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.

Notice it doesn’t say anything about not answering emails.

Because we all carry smart phones, we check email wherever we are.  And it seems that every day, there’s another tool that allows us to be more productive away from the office. 

Whether it’s LogMeIn, which allows me to access my desktop remotely (I know…you are shocked that I actually still have a desktop), or Hightower, which allows me to monitor and update activity for my agency buildings, or any of the other countless apps, it’s easier than ever to be fully engaged without being in the office.

And I wish it were just me that felt compelled to answer emails at the end of every day I spend away on vacation, but it’s not.  It’s most of my clients as well.  And those that don’t, while I envy their ability to “shut it down” and disconnect, there’s a part of me that also finds it a bit frustrating.

I was away earlier this week with my kids; just from Monday to Wednesday and Monday was actually a holiday.  After getting the kids to bed, I would sit down with the laptop and plow through the emails that piled up during the day.  Tuesday night around 2am, I woke up on the couch, laptop still open.

I know technology is making our lives easier, but is it always making our lives better? You might say it depends on the user.  However, I say it also depends on the expectations of those around us.