As I understand, however, this modern United States seems to have fallen behind the rest of the world in terms of taking time off from work.
From what I hear, the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not have a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. In comparison, every country in the European Union, by law, has at least four work weeks of paid vacation!
I’m told that the country of Austria, which guarantees workers the most time off, has a legal minimum of 22 paid vacation days and 13 paid holidays each year. Here in the U.S., however, the average private sector U.S. worker receives only 16 paid vacation days and holidays. Worse yet, one in four Americans does not even have a single paid day off.
I bring up these disturbing facts because I have also learned of a new development in the field of science and inventions. While I would be among the first to celebrate another new invention, because of my own fame as an inventor, I have very mixed feelings about this latest one.
According to rumors in the computer industry, and a patent recently granted to the company known as Apple, sometime in the near future a new “smartwatch” design called “iTime” will become available. It will be a wrist-worn gadget with a touchscreen and the ability to talk to another device, such as a smartphone, tablet PC, or desktop computer.
And, built into this amazing device will be the ability to interpret the wearer’s wrist movements (much like the movements now used to swipe on a smartphone, or to move a mouse for a PC).
Managing one’s time is quite important, I realize. But it has also been my observation that American workers are already complaining about the intrusion of work and workplace technology into their home and personal lives. Thanks to the advent of the portable and very convenient smartphone, it is almost a job requirement that an employee be “on call” at all hours of the day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether it is a slew of emails that continues to be sent and received after hours, or an occasional phone call from customers or supervisors, the smartphone has made it possible for people to be reached well beyond normal working hours. As a result, the relatively meager amount of time off has steadily declined for American workers, because of the expectation of accessibility at all hours.
By the way, if you should wish to watch a video about this very subject of "smartphones" and my views on them, you can go to Youtube (click here) to see what I have to say.
The iTime dilemma
So how will the iTime smartphone play into this? No doubt, because of the novelty of this new invention, and the fact that Apple’s devices are well-known for their ingenuity and “fun” of use, these “iTime” devices will rapidly find immense public acceptance. And, consequently, with more iTime watches in use, there will conceivably be even more ways for work to intrude upon leisure time.
As I’ve said before, I could very easily be a “child in a candy shop” when it comes to new inventions, particularly ones from this incredibly creative “computer” industry. But is this newest “smartphone” actually “smart” enough to advocate for a more reasonable balance of work and time off? Will it be smart enough to turn itself off when an employee leaves work, and stay off despite incessant attempts to bombard the wearer with supposedly urgent, time-critical messages?
Will this newest smartphone be “smart” enough?
Most important of all, will the iTime phone be smart enough to bring this country more into line with its European cousins, who already recognize that there is an inherent value in granting time off and leisure opportunities to hard-working employees?
As a personal side note, I’d like to mention that my time spent overseas, acting as ambassador and agent for the colonies in their quest for independence (while seeking financial help to make the Revolutionary War possible) did accomplish one thing: it served to expose me to the “European” lifestyle and mindset, which even in those “ancient” days of 300 years ago, was one in which recreational time was highly treasured and sought-after. So, from that perspective, I can in good conscience argue quite effectively for the need for American industry to consider a “time out” for iTime and other such downtime-gobbling devices that deprive the American worker of the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of leisure!
Your humble servant,