A few weeks ago, the fine folks over at Intel Security approached me with an interesting idea for a project. Instead of sharing every moment of a travel experience, they wanted me to do something very different. They wanted me to enjoy a trip completely devoid of technology and online activity. Since my job is to be online, this was a first for me but immediately I was intrigued by the idea. A digital detox is something I personally have wanted to try for a long time, but so far have been unable to accomplish. This post, as well as my follow up after the trip, are both sponsored by Intel Security, but the thoughts, opinions and experiences are naturally entirely my own.
Why a digital detox?
My life is lived entirely online. Since leaving my traditional 9-5 job more than 4 years ago, I have completely and totally devoted myself to my website and in particular, social media. That means on every trip I take, everything I see and do I share as much as I can. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but after a while always being online takes a toll and lately I’ve found myself dreaming of a trip without my laptop or iPhone, where I didn’t have to agonize over which photo to post to Instagram every day. Luckily, this digital detox challenge was the perfect opportunity for me to do just that, albeit it for only a weekend.
I have my own imagined benefits to disconnecting and as it turns out, I’m not alone. Intel Security recently conducted a survey of nearly 14,000 people from around the world and discovered many interesting tidbits, including the benefits people realize from spending their vacation unplugged. According to the respondents, the benefits included:
- Vacay-Zen: 65 percent of participants reported a more enjoyable vacation.
- Work “Time-Out”: 53 percent of participants felt less stress.
- You are Here: 51 percent of participants felt more connected to the people they were with.
- Security: Not oversharing while on vacation helps increase security as criminals can scan consumers’ social information and updates to monitor when you’re away and at your weakest point to defend against an attack.
THIS is what I’ve wanted to experience and I honestly can’t wait to see if I can do it.
My issues with disconnecting
But, I do have some mental hang-ups about disconnecting completely. My iPhone has become an extension of my body; I can’t imagine being without it at any time during the day. I don’t think I even realize how much time I spend online, in an alternate universe of likes and retweets. That scares me a little and should be a sign that I need to put down the devices for a couple of days and recenter myself. But I have a massive fear of missing out. Of not responding to messages and emails, of missing Tweets and Facebook posts and losing touch with people, even if only for a few days. I’m also a workaholic, and since my job knows no fixed location or work hours, that usually means if I’m awake I’m working. There is always something that can be done, something that can be written or edited. I’ve always been proud of this work ethic and believe it to be a great American personality trait. But that trait which has helped the country in so many ways, has also led to some problems over the years. We as a culture can’t stop working. We lack the ability to completely “be off” and to enjoy leisure time and ultimately, that tendency to overwork actually harms us in the long run. What we need is a paradigm shift, we as a society need to rethink what leisure time means and start taking better care of our own mental health.
For my digital detox, I know that I only have a weekend to attempt this great experiment and so I want to stay relatively close to home. Looking at a map I was instantly reminded of a luxury resort I have long wanted to visit, but just haven’t found the time – Salamander Resort & Spa in Virginia. A very easy drive from Washington, DC, all of the photos I’ve seen featuring this relaxing getaway destination make it feel like a world away. Located in the middle of Virginia’s horse and wine country, the resort enjoys a location that seems designed for a digital detox. There’s a lot more to Salamander though than just the scenic countryside, they’re famous for their equestrian experiences, fine dining and plenty of outdoor activities for all types of people. I can’t wait to visit, lock up my phone and just enjoy the experience. I plan on visiting the historic town of Middleburg, take a cooking class at the Salamander Resort, enjoy some amazing meals and even try their zip-lining course. I also plan on naps, pool time and doing very little. I’ve been very busy lately and I need this escape, this opportunity to unwind and more importantly, recharge. That’s vital for all of us and it’s an aspect of my own health that I’ve neglected for far too long.
So this weekend DON’T follow me on social media (well that’s not true, follow but don’t expect real-time photos) or expect any updates, hopefully there won’t be any. Naturally I’ll be sharing every aspect of my weekend at Salamander when I return to the online world, but over the course of the weekend I hope to keep my radio silence. Can I do it? I honestly don’t know, but I’m excited to give it a try.