On the grid


Confession: I find the “disconnecting” or “going off the grid” genre really unappealing. I just find that most people who write about their time come off as really self-important and dishonest. In writing about these “disconnectionists,” Nathan Jurgenson wrote:

But the disconnectionists’ selfie-help has little to do with technology and more to do with enforcing a traditional vision of the natural, healthy, and normal. Disconnect. Take breaks. Unplug all you want. You’ll have different experiences and enjoy them, but you won’t be any more healthy or real.

At the risk of coming off as really defensive, I *feel* like if I’m going on a vacation, I’m expected to “disconnect;” that somehow I can’t *really* enjoy my vacation if I’m “plugged in” all the time. YMMV, but for me, this is nonsense.

My little family of 4 will be bringing 2 smartphones, 1 laptop, and 2 tablets1 For the 10 members of my extended family going on the vacation, we have a 9-device WiFi license through the cruise ship. When we’re not physically together, on the ship or during excursions, we’ll communicate with each other through WhatsApp. I just downloaded 3 ebooks from our public library for me to read during our travels, and I’ll be reading them on my “phone.”2 I will be taking LOTS of pictures with my phone; maybe even a whale selfie or two (gasp!). So, my phone is an important companion for me on this trip. It’d be silly for me, then, to claim that I’m “disconnecting,” and for me to make some blanket rule about not checking email, social media, etc.

Will my “online” activity be different over the course of the trip than it is during a regular week in my life? I’m sure it will; I hope it will. But, if you’ve engaged with me online, you know that I like to share my life with my friends and family online. I don’t see why I’m supposed to stop doing that just because I’m on “vacation.” Also, I’m scheduled to spend a full week with my whole immediate family, some of those days at sea on a boat. I love my family dearly, but I will absolutely need time to disconnect from THEM; I’ll need “me time” and will also look to my “online” friends and colleagues for an outlet from time-to-time.

So, I’m going on vacation and I’m not “disconnecting.” I’m confident my experience won’t be any less healthy or real.

(Oh, and I was kidding about live-tweeting the whole thing. Kinda…)

  1. My son has some special needs and is a voracious reader; reading is his mode of self-regulation. We can’t travel with a bunch of print books on our vacation. So, for him, reading on a tablet is of tremendous value. He’s got a long way to go to get to the end of the 17,000+ comic books available through the Marvel Unlimited app []
  2. I own a phablet; I’ve come to really enjoy reading on it. []

1 thought on “On the grid”

  1. Alana Robinson says:

    I’m here for the whale selfies!

    I agree with you, wholeheartedly. Disconnecting doesn’t have to be turning the phone off and silencing yourself from the rest of the world. The whole premise of a vacation is to separate yourself from your current environment. That (in all cases) doesn’t mean changing the way you connect with people/the world.

    Dictionary.com says “an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.” And that, my friend, is exactly what you’re doing! I hope you have an amazing vacation!

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