More than five years ago, we first discussed whether or not it made sense to take a laptop
with you on vacation. Many people do so, and say that it's actually quite useful, because it allows them to stay caught up with work with just a little bit of effort. The end result is that when they get back to work, they're not overwhelmed with everything they missed. Now, however, a psychologist in the UK insists that taking a laptop on vacation is "stupid" and can break up your family
. Seems a bit extreme. Having done vacations both with and without my laptop, I'd say that it actually depends quite a bit on the person, the job and the vacation (well, and the other family members). Mike Elgan, over at Computerworld does an excellent job shredding the psychologist's faulty logic
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.
Indeed. There are both good things and bad things about taking laptops on vacation, but it's a choice that each person should make for themselves -- and if it makes sense for them, it's hardly "stupid."