Checking out. Before the age of smart phones and Facebook, “checking out” simply applied to library books and a certain mentality we all get while at work on a Friday afternoon. But times have changed, as they tend to do, and society has moved forward into the “Technology Age,” leaving us reliant on our handheld devices and email inboxes. Whether you’re at home 5 miles away from your workplace or on vacation 2,000 miles away, it seems as though it is impossible to leave the work alone and simply “be.”
As an early twenty-something, I have experienced my fair share of older individuals telling me I’m too hung up on my cell phone. “Weapons of mass distraction,” I’ve heard them called. In my night class this summer, the teacher seems surprised when he gives us a 10-minute break and we automatically whip out our cell phones. It’s not that I don’t see where he’s coming from, but being out of the loop for hours at a time during the day is difficult for most.
An employer in Denver, Colorado is giving his employees the vacation of a lifetime. According to ABC News, Bart Lorang, CEO of FullContact API, is rewarding his workers with $7,500 to take a vacation. One stipulation: they have to disconnect from their emails, cell phones, and work overall. Remind me to change majors and apply there immediately.
But “checking out” and putting that phone away, whether it’s the weekend or a vacation, isn’t as easy as it once was. Not responding to a text message is considered rude and forgetting to return a phone call is highly frowned upon. When I am bored, I opt to grab my phone and begin “pinning” on Pinterest or see what kind of absurd Facebook status I can come up with, rather than snuggling down with a book or calling my Grandma to see how her Domino tournament went.
Essential for both work and play, having an Internet connection on one’s phone is almost a necessity. Working in the communication realm, my jobs rely on first come, first serve basis. An e-mail is sent out and whoever responds the quickest is the one who gets the shift. Unplugging from the digital world isn’t easy. While on vacation, I find it a little easier to disconnect and stay in the moment, but that’s only because I’m not in the same city with all of my friends, missing out if I don’t pay attention to my connection to the outside world.
Whether or not we like it, communication via technology is here to stay. And unless we’re preferring to stay in and watch Netflix all night or miss out on some important news around the office, we’re going to have to embrace it one way or another. But taking a tech-free break for a bit each day isn’t so bad. Try out those near-impossible Yoga poses you see in the magazines. Go to a bar and see if you can pick up guys using the worst pick-up lines in the book. Read that book you supposedly read junior year of high school. But for the love of God, leave your phone alone.