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Posted at 09:17 AM ET, 08/21/2012

A gentleman of leisure

I’m back at work after a longish vacation, and am concerned that my superiors will not realize, or fully appreciate, the fact that in the past couple of weeks I have transformed myself incontrovertibly into a gentleman of leisure.

We all agree that it’s important to unplug once in a while. This used to be more metaphorical. Now, however, we live in a society in which we live in constant fear of forgetting our phone charger. On vacation we search for places that have WiFi, even when visiting the pyramids, or Petra.

On vacation we recalibrate. During a long stroll, or while lying on the beach, or while driving many hours down the interstate, I sometimes sense something unfamiliar happening in my brain, a new mental state forming, a neurological phenomenon bursting into existence, and I’ll ponder it for a while and finally realize that this strange event is what is technically known as “thinking.” I can think again! After all these years, my mind still has that move.

Like riding a bike.

There are people who say the Internet is making us stupid. Not true, it’s probably making us more knowledgable in many traditional respects. But it distracts us. We skip and bounce across the surface of so many subjects. There is pressure to focus on the story-of-the-minute and try to figure out who won the morning on Twitter. Our books gather dust, silently reproaching us for our digital waywardness.

We know a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about nothing (not complaining — I’ve made that a career).

It’s hard to disconnect in an age in which connectedness is a professional norm and requirement. I came back from vacation to roughly 2,500 new emails, not counting the ones that were swept away by the spam filter. Supposedly we should check the spam filter, in case good emails inadvertantly were detained there and frisked, but I am too busy deleting the spam that the spam filter missed. Plus I must visit the mail room so that I can go through, and toss, all the stuff that by now has jammed my tiny mail slot. I must reacquaint myself with bosses. Grudgingly, I must re-enter the workforce, struggling to retain the vacation vibe, the glow, the inner peace.

It’ll last, I’m guessing, through Wednesday.

By  |  09:17 AM ET, 08/21/2012

 
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