The Stack

I just returned from a vacation to Mauritius -- AKA Paradise -- and South Africa. In Mauritius, I don’t think I opened my laptop and barely accessed my mobile phone. The connection was too slow anyway and the nearest Starbucks was around 4,000 miles away -- too far to walk!

South Africa was a different story completely. For a family of five, we passed through security at the airport with seven phones: three iPhone 6s, one iPhone 5c (which I subsequently left on the flight from Cape Town to London, and, thanks to absolutely incompetent customer service from British Airways – you should be ashamed if you work for this airline – it’s somewhere in Phoenix right now), two iPhone 4s  (our unlocked “local phones”) and finally another iPhone 4 (which functions as an iPod Touch for our little one).

In case there’s any doubt, we’re an Android family (NOT!).

Throughout our stay in Cape Town, we would often place all our phones on a pile in the middle of the table when we visited a restaurant. This of course was when free Wi-Fi wasn’t available and we weren’t able to Instagram all our #blessed #sunset shots and #foodporn snaps.



I dubbed this “The Stack.”



I wasn’t proud of this term and often joked that you could spot the Americans a mile away thanks to their abundance of technology.

One dinner we sat with family friends discussing a “social game” where everyone puts their phone in the middle of the table and the first to touch their phone has to pay for the entire meal. Sounds easy to avoid, but not when it becomes an obsession or even an addiction.

There’s an even an app called “Moment” that tracks phone usage via a dashboard to determine the winner (or loser) of this game. The irony of course is that this is an app, so how exactly would you monitor performance without having to use the phone in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong. I love technology. And I love my iPhone. But this trip made me take stock in what is REALLY important and how to better create balance in my and my family’s lives. There’s going to be at least one unhappy teenager around the house when phone time is limited to specific times and occasions.

Are you taking similar steps? At home? On vacation? With yourself versus your family? Are you miles ahead of me or in the same boat? What will your mobile usage resolutions be in 2015?

Incidentally, I appreciate the irony of how I am becoming my parents’ generation in terms of being crotchety, stodgy and old-fashioned. In my day, we used to…

I also appreciate the wisdom of said old-timers and how history keeps repeating itself in terms of the pursuit of balance between the best of the old and best of the new.

With this in mind, I wish you a balanced year ahead of technology usage. Should you be reading this on your mobile phone, you get a free pass from me!

5 comments about "The Stack".
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  1. Cal Simmons from Adcision Networks, January 6, 2015 at 2:23 p.m.

    Absolutely loved your post today. I have heard about many travelers taking a "technology holiday" where they either leave their devices at home ... or on a less severe level, limit use to certain times of day. But reading about your volume of devices made me laugh ... and then start counting up the number my family travels with. (somewhat similar). Would love to hear your thoughts on "clutter" online. As a travel industry professional for the last 35 years I continue to marvel at how hard it is to find actual recommendations online when searching for vacation ideas. To combat this problem, I am currently launching a new website which offers limited recommendations for destinations or interests worldwide. Would love you or your readers suggestions on popular destinations as we work to build out our site. See it here at Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions.
    Cal Simmons, Publisher,

  2. George Linzer from Potomac River Media, January 6, 2015 at 2:31 p.m.

    Dave, sorry, your outrage at BA's "incompetent customer service" touched on a pet peeve of mine and made "The Stack" a little less interesting to me. Please remember that you were the incompetent passenger who left the phone on the plane in the first place. Perhaps your family was as ashamed to fly with you as you suggest BA's workers should be? It's way too easy to slip into outrage mode (I've been there), but we'll all be better off if we save it for the things that really matter.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 6, 2015 at 2:39 p.m.

    Recommendations: read books including history books. Ask people where you are about the area and what to do. Of course, there are plenty of suggestions on line. Also as for posting: See the new insurance spots about DO NOT POST ! Was in South America this past fall and most of the people took some iPad pix that were sent out individually, so to speak, after getting back to hotels after dinner where Wifi was available as well as emailing family/friends briefly of all OK. (note: no Wifi in the jungle or Galapagos, otherwise Wifi is free) Always on would be always off.

  4. Joseph Jaffe from Alpha Collective, January 6, 2015 at 5:18 p.m.

    @george - it's Joseph btw :) I think you might be replying to me with the same outrage I expressed! Yes, I did leave the phone on the plane and yes it was my fault. I had just flown 11 1/2 hours and it was 5am. The incompetence I reference revolved around arriving at customer service at 5.40am to be told Lost Property only opened at 6am. Between 6am and 7.30am, by family sat while I heard a) you're the first job of the day, but b) there are 5 jobs before the phone can be retrieved, c) the lost property car wouldn't start because it had iced over (???) and finally d) by the time they arrived at the plane, it had been towed away and locked and would only be reopened later that afternoon, long after we had left. I was disappointed with the apathy, poor communication, bureaucracy and ultimately inability to move quicker. So I hold my right to be outraged, even though I am an incompetent passenger.

  5. Cathy Taylor from MediaPost, January 7, 2015 at 8:49 a.m.

    Love it, Joseph. We go up to northern New Hampshire during the holidays, and for the most part, you can't even get online. What a blessing! I feel like technology right now is way beyond our capacity to healthfully assimilate it into our lives -- but it's especially great to hear a similar message from someone in the biz, where sometimes technological ubiquity goes unquestioned.


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