Interview: Randi Zuckerberg

founder of Zuckerberg Media, editor-in-chief of a website, Dot Complicated, that helps untangle tech-dominated lives, and a children’s author – among other things. She was also a marketing executive at Facebook for six years and was nominated for an Emmy award for her innovative blend of online/TV coverage of the 2010 US midterm elections. She loves technology but encourages a tech-life balance to ensure we enjoy our offline lives too. With that in mind she has teamed up with Celebrity Cruises to help create its Take Care of YourSelfie programme.

How did the partnership with Celebrity Cruises come about?
I released a book a year ago called Dot Complicated and talked about how amazing technology is in our lives but also the value of unplugging and finding a balance. As a society we have got so enraptured with tech and gadgets, but there is also a beauty to being present in your life with your family and loved ones – living life rather than always having your head down staring at your phone. So when Celebrity Cruises approached me and asked if we could work together on a programme to get people to really unplug on vacation and make the most of it, it was a perfect fit.

What does the programme include?
It is a year-long programme and the first thing we’ve launched is a Take Care of YourSelfie spa menu. There are five treatments with fun, cheeky names [Facial Time, Instaglow, Get Wrapped, Texticure and Control Alt Delight] and the intention is to encourage people to find time to unplug during their vacations and enjoy people they are with.

Do these treatments address genuine, technology related issues?
We worked with the doctors and dermatologists at Canyon Ranch to make sure the treatments were designed with technology-related symptoms. Things like carpal tunnel syndrome are well-documented; but lesser known, for example, is that staring at your phone just before bed really affects your ability to sleep as it makes changes to your brain that keep you from falling asleep. There are real effects from staring at screens to be addressed. We have also tried to incorporate mindfulness. Part of the Instaglow spa treatment involves setting your intentions beforehand about what you want out of the treatment and the holiday as a whole.

Do you support going tech ‘cold turkey’ on holiday?
No, not at all. People want to document their vacation if they are having a great time with friends and family or if they’re on a romantic trip. So it’s not about locking the phone away; it’s about being mindful and enjoying your vacation. Part of that is taking the time to indulge in a spa treatment, but also it’s about giving the people you are with your undivided attention.

Are cruise passengers a good target audience for a programme like this?
The kind of person that goes on a cruise wants to unplug for a week and wants to indulge. This kind of person is already thinking about unplugging and making most of their week, so it seems a natural partnership.

Are there age groups of people who need to adjust their tech-life balance more than others?
Everyone is on their phone all the time. It’s not just a young person thing. If you look at the stats around our favourite social media sites, the fastest-growing user group is 50-plus. And if you look at who is buying the iPhone 6 – an expensive item – it’s certainly not just young people. We have reached tipping point and it is everyone. We also expect to be connected 24/7. So partnering with Celebrity is a great way to encourage people to take their first steps to start unplugging, be present in your life and maybe it’ll carry off into your life off the ship.

Do you hope people take lessons from the ship home with them?
It is important that they do. We have a beautiful brochure on the ship that talks about treatments and tips for unplugging after the vacation. It’s all about balance. I love technology; it’s amazing. I have a three-year-old and a five-month-old and couldn’t be without tech, so I definitely don’t advocate an anti-tech stand. But you can’t fully enjoy the beautiful things about your life if you’re always staring at a screen. So a beautiful cruise is a great place to start changing people’s habits.

Will virtual reality play a big role in the future of the travel industry?
Yes, it will be huge for the travel industry. Imagine sitting at home and feeling what it feels to walk on to a ship and through guest rooms and tour the spa virtually. People have preconceived notions of what cities look like, but if you can show people exactly what they can expect and experience, I think that is game changing.