The Talk

'Can you hear me now?'—Going to the third world to escape the real world

- Last modified: June 17, 2013 at 12:43 PM

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The offending picture.
The offending picture.

Well, here I am, back from vacation.
Don't worry, this isn't a review of my hotel, or an open letter to the men of Europe about taking a good long look in the mirror before wearing that Speedo out in public.

This blog is about how darn hard it is to leave the modern world behind in today's modern world – even when you have little choice.

Thanks to mobile technology, people can be contacted almost anywhere at almost anytime.

When my husband and I take a trip to New York City or head down the shore for a weekend, I expect him to have his nose buried in his smartphone half of the time, which is only slightly less than it's stuck there when he's at home.

He is a salesman, so a missed email or text could mean a missed sales opportunity. If there's Wi-Fi or phone signal, he'll use it.

So, he and I had a little sitdown before we left on our trip to a small all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic.

I reminded him that this was a getaway, a chance for us to spend time together, and I expected him to leave behind the electronic devices. I specifically chose the hotel because it only had limited Wi-Fi and only in the lobby. We would HAVE to leave the real world behind – or so I thought.

We brought our smartphones and an iPad with us – just in case of emergency. I was determined we weren't going to use them, and my husband was committed to going wireless for the week, at my behest.

Then the monkey happened.

I should state for the record that I'm a bit monkey-crazy. I see one of the little guys – or gals – and my brain flies out my ear. I'm suddenly 5 again.

When a photographer came around with a squirrel monkey on her shoulder, I had to get my picture taken … and I had to show the world.

Soon, I was in the lobby chasing a Wi-Fi signal. This monumental event had to be tweeted!

My husband watched me smugly as I ran around the lobby, on my tiptoes, hopping up and down and leaning over rails trying to get a strong enough signal to send the picture back home.

He said with a smile, "I'm going to check my work email now."

Dan 1 – Stacy 0.

I couldn't really complain. He wasn't abusing the Wi-Fi, and I checked up on the subject; he's far from alone.

A study commissioned by Team Viewer last summer showed that 30 percent of Americans expect to check work-related emails while on vacation.

It has almost become expected that people make themselves available electronically when on vacation.

I know, as I was working on an article on Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast Pennsylvania shortly before my break. The organization's marketing director, Laura Eppler, was on vacation, but kept checking in by email to see if I was getting all of the help I needed. I felt TERRIBLE that she was disturbing her vacation – but I certainly did need and appreciate her help.

Not all companies expect constant contact, however. Tina Hamilton, president of hireVision in Allentown, said her staffers aren't expected to respond to emails while on vacation.

"We actually have a company policy against it," she said. "We feel vacation is an investment of the company in the rejuvenation of our employees."

Can't decide what work just can't be left behind. I found this article online, which gave an example of a very creative way to remind coworkers and clients you're on vacation.

Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe covers technology and trends plus keeps you up to date on what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler and on social media. Reach her at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook and circle her on Google+.

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