The National Day of Unplugging (NDU) is on the not-so-distant horizon. Observed from sundown on Friday, March 4, until sundown on Saturday, March 5, NDU challenges us to turn off our smartphones, shut down our laptops, and unplug our televisions to observe a modern day of rest.
Developed by Reboot, a nonprofit organization that aims to reinvent Jewish traditions, the NDU is for people of any faith or no faith. The 25-hour period is guided by Reboot’s Sabbath Manifesto, which encourages a weekly “time-out” following ten principles: 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; and 10) Give back. For the National Day of Unplugging, avoiding technology is the most important of these principles.
The digital day of rest is in its second year, and Reboot expects it to have the same resonance that it did in 2010. “People are craving a discrete sanctioned moment in time to unplug from technology,” says Lou Cove, executive director at Reboot, in a press release. “They are seeking permission to disconnect without fear of missing an urgent work email or a breaking news story, and to return to what’s most essential in their lives: community, meaning, and belonging.”
This year, Reboot is offering a tech-aided way to unplug: a “Check Out” app that allows smartphone users to post messages on Twitter and Facebook announcing when they are unplugging. Users can also sign up to receive text messages reminding them to unplug. Tanya Schevitz, Reboot’s national communications coordinator, writes in an email:
Believe me, we fully appreciate the irony of using a high-tech app to announce a low-tech day. But really, what better way to tell your followers that you won’t be tweeting on the weekend? We are not anti-technology. The idea really is to take a pause from the technology that consumes our lives and reconnect with the people and community who are all around us but are lost in the noise of today’s relentless deluge of information.
Elizabeth Drescher, reporting for Religion Dispatches, appreciates the mission of the National Day of Unplugging but suggests it is possible for technology to help us reconnect to the world around us and within us:
At its very best, the National Day of Unplugging encourages reflection on the deeper meaning and value of our relationships with families, friends, our communities, the wider world of beauty and need, and whatever we might understand as God or the divine—however much these may or may not be enriched or diminished by our use of technology. In that sense…the event might better be named “The National Day of Connecting.” On such a day, as I see it, foundational practices would surely include the intentional powering off encouraged by Reboot. But there’s no reason it might not also include a digital retreat with the teachers of the online Buddhist community, Tricycle.
Image courtesy of Reboot.