A few weeks ago, I took two days off work to drive to Brookston, Pennsylvania — a hamlet buried deep in the Allegheny Mountains — to bury my grandmother’s remains.
It was a necessary vacation for obvious reasons.
Thanks to my iPhone, though, I could monitor work-related matters while cruising down the Ohio Turnpike. (While my wife was driving.)
At my grandmother’s grave site, we came together to accommodate the dying wish of a Granny and a mother: gather the family to put her to rest next to my grandfather.
While standing atop a cemetery hill that holds older generations of the Marley family, sharing the myriad reasons why we loved our grandmother so much, I took out my phone to snap a photo and noticed that I was out of range of a cell signal.
I know it’s hard to believe that in 2016 there’s still a place in the United States not covered by cell reception, but this tiny burb that takes up less space on a map than a fingernail might be one of the last places you can go if you seek true solace from a world that moves at a thousand miles-per-hour.
Not having instant access to e-mail is a foreign, if not unsettling, concept today for those of us in the communications industry. Even when we’re on vacation, there is still some expectation to be connected. (Which is totally our fault, btw.)
Even though I was surrounded by loved ones, I felt a weird sensation caused by not being connected to the Internet.
I should’ve felt relief, but it was more like anxiety.
Something could be happening that I needed to respond to, but it was impossible to do so.
Here I was, burying my grandmother, and my brain wouldn’t let me forget about my real-life responsibilities.
Our connection to work is only as far away as our mobile devices.
Even though we say we aren’t going to check email while on vacation, we still do. Constantly.
Which begs the question: is it possible anymore to actually turn off work and enjoy your free time?
The Economist suggests our jobs have become prisons from which we cannot escape.
In The Week, the writer thinks we work insane hours because we’re afraid of someone taking our spot if we’re away for too long.
Still don’t see where I’m going with this?
Well, then take this statement from a story in New Republic: Burnout is a diagnosis for winners.
Can you hear me now?
We talk a good game when it comes to ditching technology and “getting away from it all” but we have put ourselves in a position where, except in rare instances, we don’t truly enjoy time away.
You even see it in our social media habits when we constantly share the great work our company or agency has done, even when we’re supposed to be off the clock.
It’s like we cannot forget about our careers, even for a couple of days, because then what is our purpose in life?
If we can’t stop thinking about work long enough to celebrate someone’s life, then something is clearly wrong here.
Maybe I’m asking the wrong question.
It’s not: Can we separate work and life.
The better question is: Do we want to?