It seems that Shabbos this week (that is, sundown Friday through sundown Saturday) is the National Day of Unplugging. I’d seen it mentioned, ahem, online, but was taken by the story in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle, which I take as a daily print newspaper. The story, in a business column that appears regularly, is headlined “Confessions of a tech addict” and you can read it from the link.
So: Do I participate or not?
Based on the story, there’s no reason I should: I’m not a “tech addict” according to those anecdotal signs.
I don’t even own a smartphone, much less cycle through email and all the social network sites first on the computer…and then again on the smartphone in case I’ve missed something.
I’m almost always off the computer (and the internet) entirely from around 8 p.m. to around 7:45 a.m., and frequently from 6 p.m. to 7:45 a.m.
When I am on, I don’t compulsively check social networks and email. I probably spend more time on Friendfeed than is really good for me, but otherwise…not so much. I’m mostly either writing on the computer or visiting sites to help whatever else I’m doing.
Still…the idea of staying off the internet entirely for 24 hours is almost appealing. Not that I haven’t done that. With the exception of our most recent cruise (when I checked email once a day at the request of, and expense of, my then employer), I was entirely offline from the time I left for vacation until the time I returned. That’s even true for conferences: With rare exceptions, I’m off the internet when I’m away from home. And that’s fine with me.
How do I feel about the national day of unplugging? I’m not sure. The idea that it’s extraordinary to pay attention to the people in your real world and less attention to your virtual acquaintances strikes me as unfortunate, but I suppose it’s a start.
Most likely, I’ll follow typical Friday evening/Saturday day patterns–which means the only time I’m likely to check email or social networks is for about an hour Saturday morning and maybe three hours Saturday afternoon.
Frankly, if you exhibit the signs that the Chronicle writer does, it might not hurt for you to join the unplugging. But that’s your call.