Unplugged in Alaska

On May 31, 2011, in New Media, Social Media, by Zaid Rasid

I had a great vacation recently in Alaska and while I was there on a cruise, there came a point where I had no internet access whatsoever. It was something I was prepared for but the difference being, in a remote area like Alaska, you have little to no choice when it comes to checking your email or logging on to Facebook.

Many of us take vacations and as long as we have our Blackberry or our iPhone, we’re technically still connected. Many of us try to stay away from our devices and from checking our email, especially work email but it’s hard to resist.

Separation Anxiety

I’ll even go as far as to admit that I have a case of separation anxiety from some online tools.  I know this sounds bizarre but from when I can remember, it all started with the advent of internet chat tools, ICQ and MSN chat.  Whenever either of those tools were down, I would become slightly anxious, checking constantly for their return.  I think this extends to internet access as well.  In university, I remember the times when our internet would be down for maybe an hour.  It would essentially shut down the whole campus and residences.  And lets onsider the internet at work.  If it goes down, most of your company probably shuts downs as well (of course this depends on your industry and the type of job you have-mostly B2B).

Take a break

In a way, I was forced to be without the internet for 7 whole days.  And I think it was refreshing.  I think it’s important too.  It allows you to really step away from work and from the online community.  It makes you step outside of your bubble and provides perspective.  After all, I was in Alaska, staring at glaciers and mountains.  It made me realize, that it’s not so important to ensure a Tweet went out from my account, or that my life would not end if I wasn’t up to date with my social circle.  And I think it’s a great way to avoiding internet or connectivity burnout (which I believe is real).

Missed Phone Calls

There are legitimate risks that you take when you’re not connected.  It’s very likely that you can miss important phone calls.  It’s very likely that an emergency can happen and that you could be out of reach.   Anything is possible while you’re disconnected.  But it’s part of life.  Life will intrude when you least expect.  In fact, without getting into too many details, something bad did happen back home, while my family was away.  But as I mentioned, those are the cards that were dealt.  I still think, it’s worth taking the chance and getting away from your phone and your computer (of course, do this responsibly*).  And I think 1 week is a good amount of time.  You might even have to go somewhere remote, to ensure you’re truly offline.

What do you think?  Can you unplug for a few days?  How long could you go?

*it goes without saying to always let someone know where you’re going and a way to get a hold of you in case of an emergency



2 Responses to Unplugged in Alaska

  1. Derek Martin says:

    When I was growing up, we spent every summer at the cottage. From the day after school was done until the day before it started again, I was barefoot and carefree. I had fun every day – fishing, boating, kneeboarding, playing beach volleyball, reading books, having bonfires, and camping. We didn’t have a phone at the cottage. If people wanted to see or talk to us, they had to drop by — and they did. Surprise visits were always welcome & exciting. We didn’t have a TV either.
    Can you imagine? No phone, no TV, no internet — and no complaints from us kids?
    Yep, there’s lots to do when you’re offline.
    Today the cottage has a phone, and satellite TV, but we don’t use them unless it’s raining.
    Still, to this day, I never get a better night’s sleep than when I’m at the cottage.
    Being there gives me permission to say “I’m offline, and that’s ok. All my responsibilities can wait.”

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