Usually when I come back from a trip, I feel like I’ve learned something, and this time is no exception. I went to Mexico last week without much of an agenda other than getting away from it all, enjoying some down time, and surprising my best friend for his birthday. I’d say it was pretty successful on those counts.
It started nicely with a smooth commute that left me with time to use the yoga room at the fabulous SFO Terminal 2. I recommend it. They also had an exhibit of records and related paraphernalia in the terminal, including the psychedelic record box I had as a kid but had totally forgotten about. I was off to a good start!
I decided to leave behind my iPhone and all that goes with that spunky little bit of technology. It was the right decision. I found it interesting to note how many times I was tempted to reach for it out of habit — to check the time, to check for messages, to check the weather, to see what’s new in the world, to see how many hits my blog had gotten, to post a photo or an update to facebook, to affirm that someone somewhere out there was thinking of me.
That impulse stopped around day two. Not so surprisingly, pretty much everyone I saw, tourists and locals alike, was working their phone — sad, bored couples at restaurants both on their phones who make you miss the days when couples would care enough about hating each other to make a scene; and worse, guys at bars who should have been cruising me but refused to look up, cruising on their phones instead. Why should it be any different in Puerto Vallarta? I saw iPads at the beach, for god’s sake.
I’m not against technology, not by a long shot; I do worry about how people use it, consciously or not, to close themselves off. What used to pass for socializing is becoming so, well, antisocial. Sure, technology can be used to connect people as well, and that’s great…but there’s a balance that seems to be off for a whole lot of folks.
And, for me anyway, vacations are about vacating, leaving my normal space and routine behind and experiencing something different. This tethering to technology feels like the 21st-century equivalent of people who bring their TV and living room furniture and an AstroTurf carpet camping. I’m sure people still do that.
It makes me a little sad when I see the tourists stumbling around downtown San Francisco in pairs, wearing matching outfits and staring into their phones trying to figure out the map when they could just look up and smile and ask a local how to get to Fisherman’s Wharf (and the outfits make me a little sad, too). It’s a wonder people meet anyone new these days.
And don’t tell me they’re meeting tons of new people online. They’re not. Don’t get me going.
My first day back at the office after vacation, I left my phone at home by mistake. I guess because I had just spent six days in Mexico without it, it didn’t seem like such a big deal…and it wasn’t. I think I’ll be taking more breaks from my phone.
The other thing that made an impact on me this trip was the awareness that my days of basking in the sun are over, and that’s just the way it goes. I didn’t get a tan, not even a little, and a friend noted that I posted almost no photos of myself with my shirt off. It isn’t the end of the world by a long shot, but for someone who loves the sun (and taking his shirt off) as much as I do, it is something. Yep, I do believe Vancouver was my last real beach vacation. I’m grieving it a little.
The usual Puerto Vallarta agenda — getting a lot of sun, meeting a lot of guys, having a lot of sex (or trying to, anyway) — was changed this time in favor of a non-agenda: no plans, no expectations, just relaxing and taking things as they come. It worked. Oh, and don’t worry, I still had my fun.