Tag Archives: email vacation

Email Sabbatical Has Begun

We are packed and finishing the final touches on leaving Los Angeles. My email bouncer is on (with a few remaining loopholes for those who I owe stuff to before I leave… those will close tomorrow). We will then begin driving east via the 10, do the family thing for the holidays, and then run off for a proper vacation in Costa Rica before landing in Boston mid-January. What this translates to is:

No email will be received by danah’s ornery INBOX between December 11 and January 19!

For those who are unaware of my approach to vacation… I believe that email eradicates any benefits gained from taking a vacation by collecting mold and spitting it back out at you the moment you return. As such, I’ve trained my beloved INBOX to reject all email during vacation. I give it a little help in the form of a .procmail file that sends everything directly to /dev/null. The effect is very simple. You cannot put anything in my queue while I’m away (however lovingly you intend it) and I come home to a clean INBOX. Don’t worry… if you forget, you’ll get a nice note from my INBOX telling you to shove off, respect danah’s deeply needed vacation time, and try again after January 19. It’s sick, twisted, and counter to the always-on culture that we live in. But it’s me.

I’ve received a lot of feedback in the last week about my approach to email while on vacation. I’ve been commended and accused of being a self-righteous bitch. I particularly love the folks who tell me to get a Blackberry. (For those who don’t know me, I have a Sidekick and an iPhone.) I normally check email all day long and when I’m in full swing, I receive 500-700 personally addressed emails per day in addition to mailing lists. There’s no way that this is manageable when I’m going away for a month. There’s no way that I could address this much email in the first month of arriving in Boston. Also, I learned ages ago that it’s better to declare email bankruptcy than to fool myself or others into believing that I can manage the unmanageable. I announce my email sabbatical a few weeks ahead of time so that folks know what’s coming. Perhaps I misjudged how folks would take my email sabbatical. Personally, I think it’s pretty rude that folks think that the asynchronicity of email gives them the right to pile things onto my plate like a huge to-do list. But it appears that many think I’m the rude one for demanding folks to wait while I’m on vacation.

I’m also shocked by how many folks are completely addicted to their email. I have to admit that email sabbaticals are very much like a meditation retreat for me. It’s all about letting go. And gosh darn it, it feels mighty fine to do this.

Anyhow, my apologies to those who think I have no right to take a vacation or beg a reprieve from the onslaught of emails from well-intended strangers. I don’t mean to offend. But I do mean to give myself the break that I desperately need in order to come back refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle the next big thing.