National Day of Unplugging

Technology is a double-edged sword: It has the power to revolutionize our productivity and allow us to achieve feats previously thought to be impossible; but it also has the ability to drain our focus and squander our attention.

As a blogger, I'm usually a strong proponent of gadgets that plug in and turn on. These type of tools allow me to make a living from anywhere I want. But, like many who stare at a computer all day, I struggle with turning all the fancy gadgets off.

It's incredibly easy for me to work, play, entertain, and socialize all in front of my computer… or a television… or my new iPhone. Even my two-year-old daughter is obsessed with cell phones now. I don't blame her — they blink, make sounds, and mommy and daddy use them all the time!

Our recent overdose of technology has Courtney and me actively looking for ways to unplug our life. Yesterday on Twitter (ironic I know), I stumbled upon the Sabbath Manifesto. From the website, the Sabbath Manifesto is “a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.” Perfect!

The Sabbath Manifesto encourages people to set aside one day a week to take a timeout from life. On this one day, you're urged to:

  1. Avoid technology.
  2. Connect with loved ones.
  3. Nurture your health.
  4. Get outside.
  5. Avoid commerce.
  6. Light candles.
  7. Drink wine.
  8. Eat bread.
  9. Find silence.
  10. Give back.

The Sabbath Manifest is co-ordinating a National Day of Unplugging. From sundown on March 19th (today!) to sundown on March 20th, we're being called to turn off and unplug our gadgets to whatever degree we feel comfortable. This has the potential to benefit our selves, our relationships, our environment — and our pocketbooks.

Here's a fun video they made to support the cause:

 

You know what? We're buying in. Courtney and I are going to give it an earnest shot. We love organized days like this, and will be having some people over for board games by candlelight (alright, maybe we'll actually use the lights… still undecided)!

Either way, we'll be burying the laptops, the cell phones, and the television. For us, that would be a big step in unplugging.

What about you? How do you unplug? Will you be joining the National Day of Unplugging?

J.D.'s note: Just the other night I was chatting about this very subject with Fraser from Universe Today. We're both gadget guys, and both make our livings from the computer. But we're also both drawn to do more outside, to cut the cord with technology. Fraser has dropped his smartphone for a cheap pre-paid unit. And I'm beginning to question my drawer full of gadgets. I'll actually be joining Adam for the National Day of Unplugging. And I'll consider adding a sabbath to my weeks.

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Ruth
Ruth

There’s no way I’m joining in! I get far too much joy, communication, and productivity from my technology to waste a whole day “unplugged.”

Patrick
Patrick

I think this concept in practice is what made family vacations camping in the mountains so much fun for me. We didn’t have any external extractions – we only had each other for a few days time. It was great because our minds were free and we hiked, fished, and played games together. Amazing to think that some of the fondest memories involve no electronic gadgets. On another note – life requires balance. Taking a day off, or at least slowing down, whether it be Saturday or Sunday, once a week, is good for you. I am much happier when… Read more »

Boston Steve
Boston Steve

There is a definite need to unplug, in general, and for specific times. 20 years from now there will many books written on this subject, you can see cellphone and computer addiction becoming a huge problem. Last year my teenage daughter’s friend came with us on vacation for a week. Everywhere we went she had her phone in her hand…in the car, at the beach, at meals…..she wouldn’t put it down. Just went to a Celtic’s game with another couple and both of them were using their phones during cocktail hour before the game, during the entire game and during… Read more »

Jake @ CareerAde
Jake @ CareerAde

“The Sabbath Manifesto encourages people to …
1 Avoid technology.
2 Connect with loved ones.”

Somewhat contradictory, no?

Unless you never moved out of town and stayed local with your family, using technology is critical to connect with loved ones.

I use oovoo to do video conferences with my family. And I use the phone. And my cell-phone. And SMS and email to coordinate times for calls / video conferences with family.

I have to say I think the unplugging day is silly. If you want to spend time with people you care about, you can find better ways than unplugging and lighting candles.

Nancy L.
Nancy L.

Funny, I just suggested to my husband that we try out our new fire pit tomorrow evening rather than watching videos. Little did I know we’d be part of a movement, lmao!

chacha1
chacha1

I’m thinking I’ll institute a sanity day. (To me “sabbath” has too religious a connotation, so I’ll use the secular label!) Am pretty sure DH would be on board.

As to unplugging … have to confess, when I’m working on a jewelry or sewing or art project, I’ve got the TV on. Probably should work on enjoying silence more.

Def won’t be unplugging anything anytime until the taxes are done!!

ami | 40daystochange
ami | 40daystochange

I love this suggestion. I think it’s very easy to have your attention lured away from what’s important by the insistent pinging and beeping and blinking of technology (not to mention the mesmerizing internet). In my view, the Sabbath Manifesto is about intentionally making a choice to focus on what’s important over what’s insistent and urgent and about living consistent with our values. In response to Jake #2 my take on avoiding technology and connecting w/ loved ones is to not let buzzing cell phones, pinging texts and voice mails and the internet distract you from re-connecting with loved ones.… Read more »

H Lee D
H Lee D

I think this is great! People don’t even always realize how much time they spend looking at screens. @Jake: do you have no local meaningful relationships? Connecting with family doesn’t need to be taken literally. Much of my family is not in my time zone, but I read this as suggesting to spend time with people near you who are typically glossed over in favor of electronics. I am not a TV-watcher (I didn’t own one until I married into one), so that’s not an issue for me. I very purposefully have not bought a cell phone with internet. I… Read more »

Jake Rios
Jake Rios

I’ve spent the past week without watching television. It’s been a big help in keeping me on task.

I have been able to walk my dog for an hour after work, and the weather has really helped in making that possible. I’ve also been more productive on some side projects that I have going on.

I’m contemplating disconnecting my cable, and only keeping the bare minimum channels so I can watch the news in the morning.

Shel
Shel

Kinda like Earth Hour, March 27th. I enjoy that kind of thing.

Early Retirement Extreme
Early Retirement Extreme

Well it’s all nice and fine, but I find these “doing something different for one day” or “doing something different for 365 days” exercises kinda pointless. The worst of them is probably the “Don’t use electricity for one hour each year”, the “Delay your shopping for one day”, or the “Don’t refill your gas tank today”—I forget what those ones are called—because the beneficial effect will be made up for and canceled out the very next day or hour. They make no difference other than 15 minutes of fame, a book project, or a news statement. If it is important,… Read more »

Misty
Misty

My fiance and I are doing this, mostly. He decided that he wanted to leave the option open to read ebooks, or write on his laptop (he’ll tell you that he has atrocious handwriting, so paper/pen is out for him). I’m leaning towards playing music while I read (complete silence is difficult for me) or work on a messenger bag project.

As two people constantly connected, I think it will be a challenge to not check email or read blogs for 24 hours, but it will also be nice to say that it can be done (for us).

Jake @ CareerAde
Jake @ CareerAde

@ H Lee D:
“do you have no local meaningful relationships?”

Less than 15% of my friends and none of my family are in town. The remainder are all at least 1hr drive away and the majority live in different times zones and even continents. Definitely need technology to connect with them.

I agree with #11 – these “xxx day” things seem silly and pointless. Yes they raise awareness, but I doubt that they stick.

Troy
Troy

Tomorrow while all of you are “unplugging” I am going to go ahead and “plug in” I will plug in and recharge my old school i-flip phone that I hardly ever use and that does not text or surf the net. But it does make and recieve calls. I will plug in my kids power wheels so they can race each other in the yard on a beautiful Saturday spring day while my wife and I sit and enjoy the view. I will plug in and check to see the balances on my credit cards…wait…I don’t own credit cards. I… Read more »

Bill
Bill

I thought a laptop would be awesome. Now I never put the computer down!

Aleks
Aleks

I’m with #11, I just don’t see the point. If you feel trapped by your gadgets, leave them at home. If you’re spending too much time on the computer, take a hobby like hiking or gardening. The key point is, if you’re unhappy with your lifestyle it takes more than a one-day over-reaction to fix it. Some things don’t average out, you need to do them a little at a time. Just like you can’t exercise for a full day and be a slob the other 364, it does no good to go completely unplugged for one day. If you… Read more »

Meredith
Meredith

It’s a great idea to get away from technology every now and then. The summer of 1997 I had my first real job – I did an internship where I was absolutely surrounded by workstations and big screens and cell phones and netmeetings (the real world I guess). Once that job was over, I needed to get away from it all, big time…. we headed to northern Wisconsin to camp for 4 days – my husband wouldn’t even let me wear a watch… we were to eat when we were hungry and sleep when we were tired. I spent the… Read more »

Laura
Laura

I’ve been seriously considering doing something like this with my family as well. I was thinking of something more like a no TV month in the summer but may also unplug one day a week. We telecommute so it would be impossible to unplug for the month.

KC
KC

Sorry, got basketball games and preseason baseball to watch with my husband. We love to sit around and analyze the games and players. Also have a fantasy draft to prepare for so I can interact with my friends who are long distance and who I probably wouldn’t keep up with if it wasn’t for the internet. Since its 75 degrees out I might want to play tennis with my friends and will need my cell phone to call them. then need my car to drive to the courts. Like someone above said – if your gadgets hinder your life leave… Read more »

Rosa Rugosa
Rosa Rugosa

I think something like this is just a suggestion that will prove relevant for some and not at all for others. And will be totally repellant to some who would potentially benefit the most. Like the annual Great American Smokeout, which has little relevance for nonsmokers, but might be the perfect time for the right person in the right frame of mind to kick the habit (although I’m a smoker who has never participated). I don’t have a cellphone and don’t ever want one. I think they’ve done a lot more to diminish quality of life overall than to enhance… Read more »

Edward - Entry Level Dilemma
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

I won’t be participating for a couple of reasons. First of all, I simply can’t. I spend Saturday mornings volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity thrift store testing electronics so they can be sold. The other is that Saturday afternoons are one of the few times that I consistently have the ability to get online for any length of time. I work at a greenhouse; so I already spend a considerable amount of time outdoors and unplugged. It’s a great idea; I just need it to be a Tuesday or something for it to work for me.

Ken Siew
Ken Siew

I unplug by going out with my loved one and reading. Other than that, I’m breathing and living my work and passion =D Oh and sleeping is also unplugging for me. And by the way, today’s “World Sleep Day”, with the slogan “Sleep Well, Stay Healthy”. Everybody go sleep!

Simon
Simon

I used to work at a drug rehab clinic in New Jersey, and it was amazing the excuses people would come up with.

Money Reasons
Money Reasons

I get tired of these “do this because famous and I say so” silly movements. I’d rather think for myself and do things because I realize that they need done.

Besides, this movement reminds me too much of the “Earth Day”…

John Love
John Love

I’ve always like participating in a sabbath. Jews have been doing it for yonks. I hope to take it a step further by making an effort in making every seventh year a sabbatical (sabbath, sabbatical: it’s all about 7). I totally understand why there are so many people not interested in participating and personally I started wondering if I couldn’t have something in my life that took an ordinary day and made it extraordinary. I think the trap with all these gadgets and gizmos we all have is just that: we all have them. It’s not anything special to have… Read more »

Holly
Holly

Yeah…love the concept, but definitely not during the first round of the tournament. Maybe next month?

Bear
Bear

Love, love, love this idea! Thank you for the suggestion!

myfinancialobjectives
myfinancialobjectives

Unfortunately for me, If I unplug, I don’t go to work. Kinda hard to program Cisco equipment unplugged:) I’m just joshin, but I love this message. I have such a hard time “unplugging”, that sometimes I’ll check my email one more time while in bed on my iPhone before going to sleep!

Clayton
Clayton

I think the point of the day off is to step back and put perspective on our dependence on electronics. We are very dependent on them and reading the comments just shows that. I spend as much time away from gadgets as I do with them so I don’t feel too dependent or trapped by them. For others it seems they have to be in constant electronic interaction like in #28, or the daughters friend in #3. To me life is all about moderation and that has always worked out well. The day off idea is to help those who… Read more »

shash
shash

Candles with boardgames?!? You’ll shoot your eye out!! Oh, um– I mean go blind. Seriously though, I have done this during many a hurricane. Choose lights on that one… I beg you. I think unplugging is very important and have been doing much more of it lately because it makes my quality of life better (even though technology does that too). However, I’ve also been noticing that my friends (many of whom do not unplug and have Iphones, etc.) get frustrated with me because I no longer answer their email instantly— leading them to think I am mad at them… Read more »

KC
KC

I don’t think its such a polarizing concept for many, we’re just pointing out how technology has enhanced our relationships. I agree there are many people that need to unplug, especially plenty of people with children and young people – they seem to be the worse offenders(I’m talking about teens AND their parents). But for many of us (parents and non-parents) we’ve learned how to make technology enhance our lives and relationships whether than take away from it (although it can do that at times). For instance…I love my mother, but if I allowed it she would call me every… Read more »

Steve S
Steve S

I don’t really like how some of the 10 concepts are packaged together as if they are all part of one coherent worldview. With the risk of sounding like a selfish you-know-what…what does “giving back” have to do with shunning technology for one day? Am I supposed to feel guilty that I have enough money to purchase a phone/computer/etc? I understand the thought process of getting away from your own life and connecting with strangers who may need just a little friendship or someone to talk to, but I have seen that phrase being thrown about like it pertains to… Read more »

kaitlyn
kaitlyn

I happen to like being plugged in. I don’t feel trapped by the wires. Besides, without the internet, what am I going to do during my hour of sitting around waiting at work tomorrow?

Wayward
Wayward

Well, today is the first I’m hearing about this, so obviously I’m not unplugged in observance. It seems a little short-sighted to designate March 20 as National Day of Unplugging. It would have made more sense (and been more practical) to schedule it for, say, June when kids are more likely to be fresh out of school–parents wouldn’t need to be catching up on email with schools, teachers, daycare, etc. and kids would actually be anxious to get outside when they’re just starting summer break. It would also make family tech-free activities like camping so much more realistic; half the… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski

I propose we make March 21 National “forgo running water and indoor plumbing day.” We’ve gotten so dependent upon it, and it makes it so easy to be wasteful. You wouldn’t waste water over-irrigating your lawn if you had to drag it up from the well in a bucket, would you? We should take a day off to appreciate that.

Patti
Patti

Guess God knew what he was doing……too busy to unplug? Try it a couple of times and you’ll find you will appreciate it more, get more done, and be a much more interesting person. Those who can’t lay it down are boorrrriiinngggg. I’ve found their conversations to be bites and of little meaning. Sorry….want to really shine? Read a book, play a game, watch the wind blow through the trees without the ringing or bleating of technology.

Technology really can dumb us down when we think we can’t live a moment without it. The expression get a life comes to mind.

Rosa Rugosa
Rosa Rugosa

Tyler K – you totally cracked me up with that one:):):)

Rosa Rugosa
Rosa Rugosa

PS – but I still don’t want a cell phone!

shevy
shevy

Well, I’m Sabbath observant, so I definitely participated! I do this 52 weeks a year (plus all the assorted Yom Tovs [festival days, like the first and last two days of Passover]) and it’s a wonderful way to maintain balance in our lives. The best description I’ve heard of Shabbat/Shabbos is that it’s “an island in time” (Herman Wouk, who used to just leave the theatre on Friday afternoon, no matter what crisis was occurring). I’m a total computer nerd and am plugged in all day and most of the night, 6 days per week. I also work with computers,… Read more »

Bananen
Bananen

I’m not going to unplug. I love my lifestyle, that’s why I chose it in the first place. But as long as you respect my lifestyle I’ll respect yours 🙂

However, i will follow one of the advices and start drinking more wine 😀

Kate
Kate

I am a religious, sometimes-Sabbath-observer, and I love the idea of a technology fast. We need to get outdoors more and, yes, connect with people who are physically near us. Jake, you do what you feel moved to do, but I want to tell you my story: I have sometimes struggled with incredible loneliness, and there was a point in my life when I had just given birth when being so disconnected from others REALLY hurt. My husband was working full-time AND pursuing a career change, so he was hardly home. My family lived far away. My two closest friends… Read more »

Ely
Ely

I rarely use my computer on weekends anyway. I stare at the screen 40 hrs a week, so I try to avoid it in my down time. I think cell phones are mostly fantastic but they do have drawbacks. My husband likes to call & talk to me when I’m with other people, which annoys me to no end – can I be with the people I’m with, please? And my sister has a smart phone constantly in her hand. Sometimes it’s fun & useful – finding a place to go eat, trying to remember who was in a movie… Read more »

The Wise Buck
The Wise Buck

I try to unplug for at least 2 hours every day. This is the time where I put the cell phone, computer and any other gadgets down and as you say “unplug” It seems like many people are experiencing information overload, so it makes sense to have that time to simply unplug.

Arsene Hodali
Arsene Hodali

I’ve always agreed with this idea. It’s why I only (officially) go online for 2 hours a day.

But I agree with some people when they say it’s hard to fully unplug. Although I go offline most of the time, I’m still on the computer or cell-phone for a majority of the time.

More self-discipline I suppose, but I’m getting there.

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