I’ll admit it. I’ve been a little overtexed lately. Our whole society has been, really. Over-screened, over-GIFed, and over-memed. I’m sort of over it. And so is Reboot, which is why they’re spearheading the National Day of Unplugging on March 1.
Yes, the National Day of Unplugging is on Shabbat, and that’s no coincidence. But before you skip it over and say “I don’t do Shabbat,” or assume that you’re going to be asked not to use elevators or take the subway –pause. Ask yourself: when was the last time you spent a WHOLE day without looking at your cell phone (let alone looking at your cell phone while watching TV and checking Buzzfeed on your laptop)? When was the last time you sat in the same room with your friend or roommate or partner and “spent time together” while you faced separate touch screens – or you were talking, and they weren’t? Tell me that doesn’t piss you off.
That’s why National Day of Unplugging – be it on Shabbat or Sunday or some day next month – is a great idea, and a great excuse. It’s an opportunity to create a personal practice around Shabbat (if that’s what you’re looking for). Or, it’s a chance to avoid your mom’s phone calls, a flood of “urgent” emails from your boss, and endless repeats of Say Yes to the Dress. It’s an excuse to be alone – if it scares you a little – and to remember what it’s like to feel connected to your community…without 3G.
Reboot, an organizations seeking to reinvent Judaism for the modern age,has made a very basic, and very adaptable Sabbath Manifesto to help you get started. It includes things I buy into like: “connect with loved ones” and, “eat bread” (you don’t ever have to ask me twice to indulge in a few extra carbs) – as well as a few tougher sells like, “avoid commerce.”
While it is still likely you will still find me running to the store to pick up a few forgotten ingredients on the National Day of Unplugging or failing to light candles, I’m choosing the practices that are more meaningful challenges for me – like finding silence, or putting away my phone.
Confession: I haven’t spent 24 hours away from my phone since 2003. So I’m actually really excited for the opportunity to tune in – to enjoy scrabble instead of Netflix, a quiet date night at home, or some solo reading time. And if I get to you call that Shabbat, then that’s fine by me