In today’s world of multiple electronic connections, the line between work and leisure can become blurred. I choose to embrace that blurring, but I can understand those folks who see it as a trap.
I’m sitting in the stately dining room of a beautiful bed and breakfast on the outskirts of Asheville, North Carolina. I took the photo above from the front porch. I drove up here yesterday with my younger daughter and we met her friend’s family for dinner. This morning, I dropped her off at a summer camp where she will spend two weeks. Later this evening, my wife will fly into the area and we will spend the night at this same wonderful location. Then we will drive down for a couple of nights on an island off the coast of North Florida.
I marvel at how the concept of "vacation" has changed in the years since I was young. Today, even while on the road, we are so connected to the rest of the world–at least if we choose to do so. Our cars receive guidance from a device connected to satellite that pinpoints our location on a map and provides directions to where we wish to go. We also can get our music from another satellite and our mobile phones can keep us in instant touch with anyone. My daughter sent and received hundreds of text messages during the long drive yesterday, including a number of them exchanged with my wife, who was in California at the time.
Today though, as I dropped my daughter off at camp, she turned her phone off and dropped it in the glove box of the car. She will disconnect for two weeks. We will probably get a letter or two from her, but that will be the full extent of contact. In a sense, she is vacationing back in the era in which I grew up. Her interactions will all be face to face, with the exception of the letters she writes home. She will have to save up memories for a couple of days and filter them down to just the few she wishes to commit to paper, rather than sending them off in a text message that is to be replaced a minute or two later with the next thought.
I’ll be vacationing somewhere between those two worlds. I’ve already gotten the text message that my wife has boarded her flight from California and I will keep my phone turned on, waiting for word when she boards for Asheville. I’ll probably take a drive a bit later along the Blue Ridge Parkway to take in some of my favorite scenery in quite remote places, but I will still know when that flight takes off and I need to head for the airport.
On Monday, I may be providing some Firedoglake editorial coverage from our car as my wife drives us back to Florida. Much of the FDL crew has been in Las Vegas at Netroots Nation 2010, and travel schedules may be such that I need to help then, outside my normal evening shift. There’s no way that will "feel" like work. I’ll be traveling with my wife, moving from one wonderful location to another. We’ll find time to walk the beach once we arrive, and I will then enjoy my usual evening shift.
In this era of digital communication, "vacations" can be anything. Especially if your job can be done online, it is possible to fulfill many, if not all, of your work requirements while also technically being on vacation.
Consider this thread to be an opportunity to pull up the chair you see in the photo and share your thoughts on how the numerous electronic "connections" that are available shape our work and leisure times and how those times overlap or not. I might be around, or I might be out taking in more of the scenery, because that’s the beauty of vacations: I have no plans until I pick my wife up at the airport.