If you’re feeling fatigued from constant tech use, relief may be in sight. The organizers behind the National Day of Unplugging want you to turn off your phones, put your computer to sleep, and abandon your iPads. From sundown March 1 to sundown March 2, this new tech-free day urges people to take a Sabbath from the Internet and go get some gold old-fashioned face-to-face interactions.
The National Day of Unplugging is an event organized by the Sabbath Manifesto, an project that highlights the benefits of taking breaks and living a balanced life. It’s created and orchestrated by members of Reboot, a non-profit group. From San Francisco to Danbury, CT, partner organizations are joining in and creating events in support of the day, hoping to show people how to let go of reliance on technology as a positive experience.
Reboot’s National Communications Manager Tanya Schevitz, tells us the positive impact taking a tech break can have. “People want to stop living through Facebook and Twitter and reconnect with family, friends and the community around them in real life.”
Schevitz discussed the success of past events, “we had an unplugging party at SXSW last year during the interactive festival where nearly 200 people spent a couple hours together without the cell phones. Afterward a woman came up to me and said how powerful it was.”
You might not be ready to commit yourself to a full day free of Facebook updates, retweets and Skype, but here are a few smaller ways you can participate and feel a little less hyper-connected:
Freedom from Facebook
If you can’t say no to tech for the whole day, perhaps for work or relationship reasons, narrow your goal and say goodbye to Mark Zuckerberg’s time suck of a social network. To remove temptation, temporarily disable your account. Or if there’s someone you really trust (your mother?) get him or her to change your password and not tell you until the challenge is over. If Twitter’s more of a problem for you, just focus on that. Or do both.
Eat, drink, and leave your phone alone
Look around your favorite restaurant. Chances are, plenty of patrons are glancing at their phones instead of talking to each other. Even more of them sit their smartphones on the edge of the tables, like a security blanket. Whether you go out to eat with a big group or just a family member, stack your phones face down on the table and eat your dinner without interruption. If there’s a larger crowd, you can set stakes to discourage cheating: Whoever checks their phone first has to foot the bill. It’s an effective way to curb Instagramming your meals and re-focus attention back to real interactions.
Get back to your roots
It’s a lot easier to forget about the temptations of social media, gossip blogs, and Temple Run when you’re surrounded by beautiful trees. Plan a long walk. Grab your bike. As Shevitz put it, “If you are out on a hike or even are sitting on the stoop with a glass of wine looking at the sunset, you may not miss your phone.”
If you want to leave your iPhone at home and stay off the computer, it’s much easier to be tech-free with company. Arrange to meet with friends beforehand, so you don’t feel tempted to shoot off a text or send a lonesome Facebook message.
Cross something off your list
Ever want to learn how to knit? Meaning to finish Infinite Jest? Make a concrete goal to work towards a dormant project, and you’ll have something to do to keep you from leaning on tech for entertainment.