You may have noticed that things have been quieter than usual here recently. If you didn't know, two weeks ago I got married and as I type this, I'm sitting on a plane on the way back from two blissful weeks spent completely offline on honeymoon in Italy.
While many of our vacations focus on adventure and exploration, this time we made a conscious decision to set aside at least half of the vacation for relaxation as the last few months have been... well, manic, to say the least. So, I had plenty of time to think, and I got to thinking about the effect that being offline had on how I thought and acted while we were away.
A few words come to mind:
You know how you don't appreciate a good thing until it's gone? As I rapidly discovered while staying in a villa with no Internet access on the Amalfi Coast (it's a tough life, I know), I use the Internet for a lot. A lot. No Internet meant no Google Maps; no Trip Advisor; no online bus schedule; no Google searches; nothing.
Was this tough? Absolutely not - it's not that long since we didn't have any of these things. However, it did make me reflect on just how much we use the Internet for nowadays. We had to search out real maps (you know, the ones "old people" use) and ask around for recommendations from local people. We had to use a phrasebook instead of Google Translate.
Again, I'm not crying "boo freakin' hoo" here, but every time I take an offline vacation I find that the Internet had filled more and more functions for me, and I find that fascinating.
The last six months have been, in a word, exhausting. We bought a house, renovated it, got married, and I was working long hours in the office. With everything that was going on, I found the opportunity to go completely offline reinvigorating.
Going from 300+ emails a day to none; waking up in the morning and not checking Twitter and Facebook; and not feeling like I should be Twitpic-ing photos of the sunset on the coast was completely refreshing. I highly recommend everyone unplug occasionally and just unwind.
Setting aside the hugely positive aspects of being offline, I did feel disconnected. I wondered what was going on with my friends. I wondered what was going on with my family. I wondered what was going on at the office. Not being able to reach out and connect with people whenever I felt like it was strange. And, yes, I did often think "I should totally post this photo" before realizing I couldn't. It was unsettling at first, but the feeling passed.
Still, social networks are all about connecting with other people. I did miss those connections.
The last two weeks were absolutely blissful and we couldn't have had a better honeymoon. With that said, I return from it reinvigorated and re-energized, and I look forward to diving back into the things and relationships that matter to me - friends, family and colleagues - with more energy than ever before!