Connecting to Disconnect


The irony is thick when writing an online article aimed at techies about how to disconnect from their techie-lifestyle.  In my past job I would lead courses on how to de-stress in the workplace.  But with the proliferation of remote access, it’s about time to talk about how to de-stress when you’re on vacation.

De-stressing doesn’t necessarily mean disconnecting.  Phones and tablets have made it extremely easy to check in at work even when you’re camping or sailing.  And that’s a boon to a person’s productivity.  But sometimes it really is wonderful (if not necessary) to disconnect fully.

An amazing element about the Internet of Things (IoT) is its transformative ability.  You can ‘connect’ without needing to ‘connect’.  You don’t have to use IoT devices to connect to other IoT users.  Connect your shoes to your phone.  Connect your shirt to your watch.  Thus, here are a few tips how to disconnect from – or at least regulate – your technological work life and enjoy your technological (or non-technnological) holiday.

(These are my opinions – not those of anyone else or even Smarter Together as a whole.)

These first few suggestions focus on how to use Internet of Things devices to enhance your holiday.  Later on, I’ll discuss a few fun things you can do to achieve full disconnection.

Trust Your Coworkers

1 - coworkers

From a business standpoint… One of the major reasons to continuously check your work email is to make sure nothing goes wrong.  But why are you working with people everyday if you think that without your presence everything will fall apart?  It won’t.  Your coworkers can handle it.  To feel more comfortable, give one or two people your contact information so that in the case of a true emergency, you can be contacted.  But then, and only then, is the ability to be in contact imperative.

Connect to Yourself

2 - connected to self

This is related to trusting your coworkers.  IoT is not here to control you – it’s here to make your life better and easier.  You can always set up some kind of alert system to notify you if something serious happens at work.  This also doesn’t mean you have to carry your phone on you while you wait for something to go wrong.  In the realm of IoT, you can hook a smart watch up to receive notifications, you can connect a smart home to do the same thing.

Utilize the Internet of Things

3 - Utilize IoT

If one of the main purposes of IoT is to make your life better, use it in a way that is conducive to vacationing.  Instead of posting on Instagram or Facebook, use a body-tracking app or a wearable to record your sports, hiking, and other adventures.

Alternative Mementos by IoT

4 - taj mahal

It’s so much cooler to come back from holiday with a 3D map of the terrain in Rajasthan you traversed by camelback than it is to bring back photos of the palaces of Jaipur and Udaipur, which are all over the internet already.  There are only so many angles one can take of the Taj Mahal – and they’ve definitely been taken before.  But if you have your very own GPS-tracked route recorded through Agra as well as photos associated with the spots you drank your first mango lassi or ran away from your first monkey, then that’s using IoT for some new and awesomely unique memories.

The next few suggestions are to be done without much modern technology.

Party like it’s 1999!  (Or 1991)

Remember the early ‘90s?  If you don’t because you weren’t born yet, watch Reality Bites or Empire Records.  If you’re feeling really wild, watch Escape from New York and see what the future was supposed to look like according to 1981.  Humanity has existed for its entire history without finding it necessary for someone to know what his or her friend is doing in Thailand.  Read a physical book rather than an e-book.  Leave your phone on your dresser and check it only at night like it was a landline rotary phone and you were checking your messages.

Disconnect or Drink!

6 - Bar

I know that’s a weird thing to say, but this is one of my favorite games to play – and it was especially popular in Brooklyn the last few years I lived there.  If you’re out with friends, clubbing, bar-hopping, whatever, take all your phones and stack them face down (or put them in a bowl).  When one person gets a text, it’s impossible to see who’s phone it is.  The first person that can’t help but check his or her phone has to buy a round of drinks for every one else.

LARP as a Neo-Luddite

7 - Luddite LARPing

The Luddites were a group from the 1800s in England that attacked and destroyed the cutting-edge technology of their time.  In their case it was power looms that create textiles quickly with little manpower.  A truly brilliant book relating to modern technology (specifically television) is Amusing Ourselves to Death by the media theorist Neil Postman.  Also – who doesn’t want to be a LARPer at least once in his or her life?

The Internet of Things can be an intimidating prospect – not to mention buzzword.  But don’t forget, it’s main purpose is to make your life better, easier, or happier.  IoT doesn’t have to mean you’re connected to everyone all the time – it means you can connect to what you want when you want.  And it’s in this purpose that the true virtue of IoT shines through.