I just returned from a lovely summer vacation at a nice beachside resort. Being the proud workaholic that I am, (I love what I do!) I use these vacations to unplug from work. I, personally, need this disconnection physically and spiritually. Additionally, unplugging greatly contributes to my business success. These times off provide invaluable opportunities to think, reflect, take stock of progress, and to create and plan for the future.
As my wife and I were sitting on the beach and by the poolside, the number of people constantly glued to their smart devices struck me; people of all ages, from all walks of life – fathers, mothers, their kids. In fact, with many guests, it seemed as if they were on Facebook, email or Instagram nonstop.
It was the same way at the restaurants during breakfast, lunch and dinner – people sitting around a table, each in their own world, glued to their personal smart device, consumed by what was on their screen rather than who was in their company.
So, when do these people actually enjoy their vacation?
I am not naïve, and I don’t mean to be narrow-minded or judgmental. I understand the modern smart digital age we live in. I take part in it every day. I use my smartphone too, when not on vacation. In addition, I have three kids who are, or were, teenagers. So, I fully get it.
However, I try very hard to manage and control my smart-device usage and not allow it to manage and control my life. It seems that so may people have reached an unhealthy point, and my vacation people-watching experience definitely confirmed that.
Some people may push back and say, “Being on my smart device doesn’t take away from my vacation, it enhances it,” or “It doesn’t distract me. It helps me relax.”
I don’t buy it!
When people are consumed by their smart devices, they are not meaningfully present in the moment with the people and activities around them. It’s as simple as that – when they are on their smartphones 60-90% of the time, they are fully present with their immediate environment only 40-10% of the time.
Don’t take this the wrong way, I try and take the fullest advantage of these innovations and I value the transformation technology, smart devices and the digital and social media environment is bringing to many areas of my life.
At the same time, I also see the negative affects of technology – people being so occupied by their devises that it compromises their ability to relate, communicate and drive intimacy.
Where are you on this spectrum?
Photo by: Johan Larsson