Have you noticed that during these few weeks at the end of August, it becomes less and less clear who's 'on vacation' and who's working? It used to be people took vacations. They left their office, they weren't on call. They were 'off.' There were all kinds of metaphors for this -- 'recharging batteries,' going 'off the grid,' or taking some 'down time.' But the results were the same. You left your office, your clients didn't call you, your co-workers or employees didn't ask you questions. You were able to spend time doing whatever it was that wasn't work. You could commune with nature, go bowling, or simply chill out. But the problems of the world and work receded for a bit.
This summer, the rules (which have been changing for a while now) have changed in a big way.
Remember those vacation messages you'd get when you sent an email to a vendor or partner saying, "I'm out this week"? Well, you may have noticed far fewer of them this summer. And you'd be right. They're old news. No more. Because even when you're off, you're on.
There are lots of factors that have created the "No-Cation" vacation. First and foremost, there's the economy. Sure, things seem to be starting to turn around, but this is no time to leave your post and assume that all things will be as you expect when you return. That has publishers, ad agency people, marketers and brand managers all keeping their electronic tether live and online.
Secondly, the very nature of technology is changing. It used to be we had cell phones - and even if we were out of town, folks could call. But a call was an interruption and folks knew that - and respected it. So if you were on vacation, calling the cell phone was reserved for emergencies only. But now more of us use our cell numbers as our main contact or at the very least give it out as a secondary way to reach us. So cells are no longer sacred. In fact, they're very much part of the daily communications workflow. So as the cell number becomes easier to dial, the boundaries slip away. And then there's the whole world of texting. Texts are low-fi communications, easy to send, and hard to ignore. Those tiny little blips of info or pings of questions are ever present - and don't go away. So whether at your desk or on the lake, a text is a mini-urgent ping that begs to be responded to.
Then there's the other side of the coin - the "private goes public" world of micro-blogging and friending. So, even as your lawyer or accountant or account manager responds to a text just as if he's on the job, you know because you subscribe to his Twitter feed that he and his two kids just did a second run on the rollercoaster at Six Flags. Feel guilty? Hardly! If you're on email it's because you're working. If they were able to slip away for a few days of family R&R, then all the more reason to keep them tied to an electronic leash.
Is this a good thing? Probably not.
Is it going to change? Probably not.
We are in an era of permanent multi-tasking - where work is 24/7, but so is family, and so are friends. So the boundaries blur, and the ritual of an honest 'out of the office' vacation becomes harder and harder to find.
So enjoy your vacation these next two weeks. Whether or not you answer your email, we know that you're not really at your desk. It's cool. Neither are we.
Happy Labor Day!
Steven Rosenbaum is the CEO and Co-Founder of Magnify.net - a fast-growing video publishing platform that powers more than 50,000 web sites, media companies, and content entrepreneurs to aggregate and curate web video from a wide variety of web sources. Currently Magnify.net publishes over 50,000 channels of Curated-Consumer Video, and is working closely with a wide variety of media makers, communities, and publishers in evolving their content offerings to include content created by, sorted and reviewed by community members. Rosenbaum is a serial entrepreneur, Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker, and well known innovator in the field of user-generated media production. Rosenbaum Directed and Executive Produced the critically acclaimed 7 Days In September, and his MTV Series Unfiltered is widely regarding as the first commercial use of Consumer Generated Video in US mass media. Steve can be contacted at email@example.com Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/magnify
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