I have officially signed up for this year’s Sabbath Manifesto National Day of Unplugging.
It is based on the biblical idea that “on the seventh day he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2)”. The idea is simple: try to go an entire day without using, or more importantly, being distracted by your technology. Just what that means is open to interpretation, but for me it means: no smartphone, no TV, no computer. I’ve taken part in this event, and ones similar to it, for the past couple of years. I used to regularly observe a media sabbath, and look forward to getting back to it, at least for one day.
This particular campaign was created by a group of Jewish artists hoping to make traditional Jewish practices (such as observing the Sabbath) more relevant in modern life (taking a temporary break from technology is refreshing no matter what your religious traditions). This year, they are asking people to unplug starting at sundown on March 23rd until sundown on March 24th. They’ve even created an online pledge page, allowing you to share this campaign with friends using Facebook or Twitter.
I’m going to have to modify this slightly in my case. Since I work every night until about 11:30pm anchoring a Toronto local newscast, I’m vowing to go tech free from 11:59pm March 23 to 11:59 March 24th (although in all honestly, that will probably stretch well into Sunday morning on the 25th)
Last year, I even ordered a “cellphone sleeping bag” that the organization created to promote this idea. When I unplug, I turn off my phone, and zip it up safely in the bag, then place it on the top of a bookshelf. It provides a nice extra ritual step I have to go through, making the process of disconnecting that much more deliberate.