Off Topic: Do You Take 'Technology Breaks'?

I tend to take two types of holidays: Those where I close the curtains, do nothing, and immerse myself in whatever game is tickling my fancy at the time, and those where I shun technology and re-introduce my body to the sun. Do you ever do the latter? A complete getaway, not just from normal daily stress, but from over-connectivity?

Over the new year period, I spent some time in Tasmania. The plan was for a large group of friends to meet up at the Falls Festival, do new year's eve to the sounds of The Flaming Lips, Hot Chip, and SBTRKT, and then split up on smaller hiking adventures before meeting back at home. I had just finished a season of 5 inch Floppy. Getting away from technology seemed like a nice temporary change.

I thought that I would have reception throughout the trip - turns out, that's not an assumption you get to make when you're with Vodafone prepaid.

It's amazing how long a phone's battery lasts with no reception. To hazard a guess, maybe six days? Longer? Which would be great, if I just wanted to play a bit of football manager. But I had really only brought it in case one of us broke a leg, or got bitten by a brown snake, or in my case, fell into a state of shock from game deprivation and ran around the jungle looking for Vaas. I swear that only happened once.

But as me and my small group trekked around the Freycinet National Park, the main concern was dehydration. While some of the beaches were beautiful, Wineglass Bay in particular, there was also a lack of drinkable water, adding some stress to the hikes. In hindsight, we didn't allow ourselves enough time to enjoy the untampered shorelines before we had to be on our way, reaching the next rainwater collector before nightfall.

At this point, none of our phones would connect to their networks. On the last day, we had a pretty hard deadline to meet - a 7pm plane out of Hobart. And what would normally have been a fairly mild hike, even with our heavy packs, was made almost unbearable by the harsh Tasmanian sun. The weather report had predicted light showers. How nice that would have been...

On a track that featured brutal sun exposure, we darted from shade to shade. Out of water, I had wrapped a wet rag around my head to stave off dehydration. Long stretches of sun-filled track were the worst, including Hazards Beach, which seemed to go on forever. I probably made a comment like "I'm not sure how long I can keep this up in the sun."

Right around the time I started feeling properly dizzy, I couldn't get one thing out of my head. It was the Council from XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I had been playing it before I flew out of Sydney, and had been well addicted by that point. In the height of my flirtation with dehydration, all I could think about is how your Council member boss forces out every syllable separately. "The Con-tin-ued Sup-port Of This Pro-ject Has Been... Worth-while. Rem-em-ber. We Will Be Watch-ing."

When we finally reached the parking lot and headed out, we found out the park had been closed and bushfires had started raging around the area. Around 67 bushfires. Firefighters were battling them back off the road as we drove on. The whole way to Hobart, the horizon was filled with smoke.

In the airport, there was a moment when a reporter started talking about the fires on TV. The entire airport fell silent, straining their ears to see how bad it was, if anyone they knew was affected, or if, God forbid, any planes were cancelled. People were missing, it turns out. Perhaps even the same people we had seen days before on the track, enjoying a park that had been shut down without their knowledge due to fire danger. It was an odd moment when I felt I had been living the events that were being reported on, rather than just connected to them through the net.

Of course, my first task when I got back was to finish XCOM. Then start a game on Iron Man Classic. Then finish Hotline Miami, and The Walking Dead. But it certainly has been a culture shock of connectivity, going from hiking a (reasonably well-traveled) mountain to being on top of every news feed for Kotaku.

Do you ever do anything similar? I know, I know, I spent yesterday encouraging you to join me in knocking out some gaming achievements, and now I'm talking about being some mountain-wandering monk. But surely I can't be the only one that does this. I'm interested to hear what rules people make for themselves. Do you have trouble sticking to it? Or do you, like me, have to actually go to a place with no reception to stop checking your phone? And how do you feel at the end of it?

Hiking photo from Shutterstock Cut the cord photo from Shutterstock


    Usually not deliberately by choice, though I can handle days away from technology when they happen (e.g. camping). However I did find that I essentially avoided my laptop for the week between new year and returning to work. I still played games and used my phone for email and so on, but I just could not stomach looking at the computer because it reminded me too much of work.

    So is that a yes? How about "maybe"?

    Starting on Australia Day, the wife, myself and my best mate are all heading up north to Rainbow Beach for a week. There's bugger-all reception up that way. We've talked about it being a trip full of the beach, board games, booze, books and boogie boards. Nothing in the way of technology except for the old PS2 our holiday house we're renting uses as a DVD player.

      Heheh, I'd be interested to hear if that PS2 gets used! I usually find I feel the withdrawal symptoms for about 2-3 days, then I start loving it.

        Depends on if they have games there or not. I don't own any PS2 games anymore myself, and the nearest rental place is about an hour and a half away. We've got plenty of board games to take with us though! Things, Quelf, Hobbit Monopoly, Cranium!

        I will have my 3DS with me, though I really need to devote some time to finishing A Dance With Dragons.

    I make an effort to go for a run through this bushwalk path before I sit down for a long gaming session. I hate that I feel sort of guilty for gaming for long periods but I do. So if I go for a half an hour run/jog (where no one can see me, yay) my conscience is happy.

    Hahahaha, no! :P

    So, 'technology breaks' are breaks AWAY from technology? Not like 'coffee breaks' where you take breaks to have coffee?

    Definitely need to recharge the cells once and a while with a break away from technology. Usually every six months I'd go on a course for two weeks, and by the time I'd get back everything felt fresh..

    The closest I've come to a technology break since I was in cadets at age 16 and spent 2 weeks in the bush was when I moved house in 2010 and it took a week for internet and foxtel to get hooked up. Still had limited access to twitter on my phone (limited because it was a dumbphone and I had no data plan) and I could still play games offline on my xbox, so it wasn't really a tech break so much as a break from being constantly "jacked in".

    I hated it. I tell myself I could take a break to get away from it all, but it'd be on my own terms, and I'd have to be occupied somehow, like on a cruise. Maybe I could spend a day lounging by a pool and not caring about my email, but maybe not.
    Forced exile due to connection delays is not my ideal scenario.

    Note really, I work in IT, so my work is technology, when I'm on holidays (rarely), I enjoy using the tech I have to its fullest to enhance my time, nothing huge, but having a projector so I can watch movies whilst in my pool, or wireless streaming music from my phone to different speakers through out my house. In saying that though, I do like going for long bike rides, can't really use my phone at 110 KM/per hour, so there is that I guess?

    Sometimes but it is more a break that involves leaving technology behind rather than an actual forced break.
    If I go to the beach or something it is easier just to leave the gadgets at the hotel so you don't need to worry about them if you want to swim or paddle. Generally I am more willing to spend money on a holiday so would rather go see a movie or a show than to trawl newsfeeds

    Getting older, Im finding i naturally spend time away from the latest tech anyway. Outside of my job, i only usually 'Game' for 5 hrs (max) on the weekend and checkup on email and troll the net for an hour or so before dinner each day. Don't use social networking nor do I have internet of games on my smart phone.

    Well there are two kinds of holiday: Away and at home.

    I take less and less tech with me when going away. Too many chargers to carry or forget.

    At home, it is playing games, watch stuff online... all that good jazz ^^

    Im just glad you and your friends are ok. Im even more happy that emergency service personnel were not injured dragging ill prepared hikers out of the bush. Not trying to be a bastard but I see this every week where I live. Don't rely on mobiles. Take a hand powered radio. Register and take a gps beacon. Plan correctly. TAKE MORE THAN ENOUGH WATER!!! AUSTRALIA CAN KILL.

    Never intentionally. The closest thing to my last break was my last school camp back in 2010 but even then I still had my mobile and PSP.

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