SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. -- A "top psychologist" in the UK told the Daily Express newspaper that employees who take their laptops on vacation are "stupid" and risk damaging relationships with loved ones.
The Workplace health expert, Professor Cary Cooper, says: "A holiday isn't just for rest and recuperation but to commune again with your family, connect with your children."
That doesn't sound like professional advice to me, but merely the expression of an anti-mobility, anti-technology bias shared by so much of the public.
Cooper makes it clear that the diversion of attention from family and friends is what's so "damaging" about working while on vacation. But why not include other activities that divert attention. Why focus on laptops? For example, what about reading, taking naps, getting drunk and any number of other activities people do on vacations that divert attention from the people you're traveling with?
Clearly he's not talking about attention itself, but diverting attention using a computer. Cooper's clear assumption is that work is "bad" and that leisure is "good," that technology (a laptop) is "bad" and non-technology (a book) is "good."
Cooper also makes a host of other assumptions. For starters, he assumes that you're disconnected from your own family all year, and need to "commune again with your family, connect with your children." So that's his advice? Become alienated from your own family, then "commune" with them for only two weeks a year? Why does he assume alienation in the first place?
Cooper assumes that you're some nine-to-fiver who doesn't do creative work. As an opinion columnist, good ideas can strike me anytime, anywhere. That's true for a lot of different kinds of people. For many, a laptop is merely a writing tool, and a source of information and inspiration.
An increasing number of digital nomads are traveling without taking time off. The laptop *enables* travel and time away with family rather than creating a problem while traveling.
It appears to me that Cooper is making a lot of assumptions, and using his credentials to give credibility to his anti-technology bias.
Don't get me wrong. I'm totally in favor of going on holiday and leaving the laptop at home. But laptops give us choice. And for many of us, the right choice is to bring the laptop.
My laptop has enabled me to spend weeks exploring Mayan ruins in the jungles of Central America, to drive across Mexico and months island hopping across a dozen Greek islands -- and all while continuing to make a good living.
A huge number of people have used mobile technology to dramatically improve and enhance their lives all year, and escape the conventional, nine-to-five rut Cooper assumes is inescapable.
That doesn't sound "stupid" to me.