Can you unplug?

 

I just came across this and had to share: The National Day of Unplugging 2011 is from sundown today, March 4, to sundown tomorrow, March 5. What is the National Day of Unplugging, you ask? Good question. Don’t worry. It doesn’t have anything to do with life support. More like tech support.

The National Day of Unplugging is a backlash to what its creators see as the hyper-connectedness of society to information communication technologies. (Read: Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc.) People need rest, and constant connectedness makes that very difficult, they say. So, drawing on traditional Jewish principles, the people behind the Day of Unplugging founded the Sabbath Manifesto, which they describe as “a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.” Despite the name, the project is not intended to be religious in nature.

In addition to the Day of Unplugging, the Sabbath Manifesto organization encourages participants to rise to the challenge of unplugging for one day every week. They promote 10 principles for this day of technological rest, including: avoiding technology, connecting with loved ones, getting outside, finding silence and giving back. Those principles don’t seem to be hard and fast; participants are encouraged to interpret them in their own way, especially the one about avoiding technology.

I find it interesting that for an organization that’s all about disconnecting from technology, there sure are a lot of tech-based ways to promote your involvement in their mission. An “unplugging app” will tell your friends you’ve “checked out” for the day, allow you to create your own Sabbath manifesto, even send you text message reminders when it’s time to unplug. You can also boast about your pledge to unplug with cute badges for your Facebook and Twitter profiles. Ironic, huh?

The project reminds me to an extent of courses sometimes taught in communication departments at universities in which the professor instructs students to go a whole day without consuming media. No radio, no iTunes, no movies, no TV, etc. It’s surprisingly difficult to do, and it really creates a void. “What do I fill the silence with?!” you wonder, as you realize how much media is consumed without thought. Sometimes it’s good to take a break, to put things in perspective.

Will I be participating in the National Day of Unplugging? Probably not. I’ve already planned to do serious work this weekend on a certain master’s thesis I’m slowly making my way through. But maybe this will encourage me to not check Facebook so many times while I’m working.

Cell phone bag

If you can't keep your mitts off your cell phone, Sabbath Manifesto sells this handy cell phone "sleeping bag." Photo from Sabbath Manifesto.

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