A Vacation Without Email

When I went off the grid for eight days, I put myself to the ultimate test. It wasn't pretty, but here’s what happened

by Suzanne Gerber • Next Avenue
lama new mexico image
Seriously off the grid in Lama, New Mexico
Photograph: Suzanne Gerber

You might not have noticed, but I was on vacation last week. That’s okay if you didn’t; I didn’t notice you either. I mean no disrespect. It's just that one goal of this getaway was to truly get away — something that I have almost never done.
Oh sure, I’ve flown to tiny, remote islands and then boarded six-seat puddle-hoppers to even tinier, more remote islands. I’ve lived on boats, slept in eco lodges and once left the country and didn’t use a phone for seven weeks. But in the Internet era, I’ve never gone more than a few days without checking my email.
We all know our e-world is a blessing and a curse, and have probably read scores if not hundreds of things online describing our addiction to email. And to those extensions of our hands, the things they call smartphones — not because they make us smarter, but because their makers (or at least one) is now the most valuable company in the history of the planet.
When I get together with friends, a popular topic is that very addiction and our ambivalence toward it. In some ways, it’s like any compulsion: We know there are aspects of it that aren’t healthy or in our best interests — and we acknowledge the damage caused by other people’s overuse of technology — but we know we can handle it. “I can stop at any time,” we tell ourselves. But can we?

(MORE: Back in Touch With Authentic Conversation)
It wasn’t my prime directive in last week’s vacation, but I knew I’d be seriously off the grid for a good chunk of it, so I figured it would be an interesting experiment: How long could I go without checking my email?

Click here to find out on Next Avenue.

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Photo courtesy of barbaradudzinska/Shutterstock.com

First Published Fri, 2012-08-31 12:25

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