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Has the Internet Ruined Vacation?

Occasionally, we need to drop the assay, turn off the HPLC, freeze the cells and take a vacation.  At first pass, disconnecting from lab sounds easy- as research seems like a profession in which making progress is heavily dependent on physically being in lab.  After all, it’s hard to express and purify protein (other than melanin) while sitting on a beach in Aruba.  Yet there are always papers to read, emails to respond to or friends to keep up with – and the internet has made it very hard to escape these responsibilities.

Even just ten years ago, when we walked out of lab to go on vacation, it stayed put.  Sure we could bring printouts of manuscripts, but who wanted all that extra weight in our luggage?… Furthermore, there wasn’t the expectation that you would be in touch in some way- it just wasn’t possible.  However, our recent survey indicated that more than 80% of us now have phones with internet access.  Between our own mobile devices or computers at the hotel, it’s hard to explain to our boss that we’re going to be truly out of touch for some period of time.  More importantly, sometimes it’s hard to tell ourselves that we’ll be out of touch for long.

So is it truly possible to take ‘time off’ anymore?  Or is an uninterrupted vacation a thing of the past?

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Does the internet make it harder to truly disconnect from work when on vacation?

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Have any tricks for preventing the internet from ruining your vacation?

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2 comments so far. Join The Discussion

  1. biochem belle

    wrote on October 18, 2010 at 10:56 am

    The last getaway I took–which admittedly was only a couple of days–the laptop stayed at home. Even though I have a data package on my phone, the email access is clunky, so I don't use it. These together made it much easier to focus on the primary objective of the trip–destressing.

  2. phosphofan

    wrote on October 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Definitely. Between my iPhone and my kids, relaxing vacations are but a distant memory.

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