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Image courtesy of The Washington Post


People talk about how smartphones and laptops have made it possible to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and how this has made all of us workaholics. We never seem to switch off entirely. I have a slightly different question on the same theme of switching off. What does vacation mean in the context of social media? Do we ever really get away on a vacation? As social media remaps our world, it raises interesting questions about here and away.

In days gone by, in the time before Twitter and Facebook and Foursquare, we went on vacation and took a break from the rituals of everyday living. This meant that we also took a break from friends and family while we explored new places and things and then we came back and shared what we had found. Now, thanks to multiple ways of staying connected, vacation does not have to mean suspending contact with friends or family.

You can sit on a beach and text your mom or walk through Louvre and tweet you friends. People start blogs about trips before they leave and update it ever so often with pictures and posts and I have enjoyed posts such as these hugely. Some folks do Twitter updates of new restaurants or landmarks and some others keep their friends posted of their every move via Facebook. All this makes for entertaining reading and I enjoy receiving these updates. It seems like we are getting a mini-vacation ourselves through our network, right?

But when I was on a short break last month, I decided not to check-in electronically. It was a decision that I struggled with especially given that I have committed to blogging every day. But if I had to focus on checking-in, posting and responding on different social media platforms, I felt I would miss out on the joy of being away. ‘Away’ had to mean away from work and the regular rhythm of life and I chose to unplug from everything from texts to blogs. I came back refreshed and recharged. I may not have had a chance to share every observation, but I have brought back some material from the trip that has infused my blogs.

How do you handle vacations? Do you stay connected with work? Do you check-in with friends? Do you share immediately via Facebook? How often do you let your friends know your location?