Saturday, March 07, 2015
It's almost National Day of Unplugging (and you're still reading this)
By Joanna CampioneMarch 6, 2015 12:17 PM
C’mon. You can do it. Just put down the device slowly, gently, and now walk away.
The 2015 National Day of Unplugging begins at sundown on Friday. Thousands of device-junkies will log off and power down for 24 hours. The initiative is in its sixth year.
Participants are asked to sign a pledge committing to staying off all digital devices until sundown on Saturday, March 7. By signing the pledge, those willing to disconnect agree to do so "for as long as I can, even if it is not the full day.”
The National Day of Unplugging is powered by the non-profit Reboot. The project is an outgrowth of The Sabbath Manifesto, and it's an adaption of the Jewish ritual of taking one day a week to unwind, reflect, and connect with loved ones.
“It’s good to disconnect for 24 hours,” says Yahoo Finance editor-at-large Aaron Task in the attached video. But can we do it? “Candy Crush (KING), Angry Birds—all these games are literally addictive,” says Task. “This is an organization…that is trying to get people to just take a step back and say there is a world out there that’s not on your phone or your other digital device.” Task adds, “It’s good to take a step out of it and, for a short period of time, connect maybe with a real human being.”
Task points to growing scientific evidence that we are becoming dependent on our devices. The latest is a new study out of the UK from the University of Derby which found 13% of smartphone users who participated in the study are addicted to their devices. The average time spent on a phone was 3.6 hours a day. The author of the study is going as far as recommending smartphones come with a health warning alerting users that they are addictive (though he admits the harmful effects of smartphone use are not on par with cigarettes or alcohol.)
So how did we get here? Smartphones, tablets and other devices that allow users to connect any time, anywhere were supposed to make life easier. Instead, the rise of this technology has blurred the lines between work and life. A study out last year from staffing agency Randstad found 45% of workers feel obligated to answer emails after hours. The study also found 42% of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation, and 47% feel guilty if they don’t work when sick.
“The productivity miracle,” says Task “Is that we’re working all the time now… people who are working hard are working hard all the time.”
Reboot hopes some of those users will take a short break from their technology tonight. The group says about 3,000 people have signed the pledge or participated in the posting of "I Unplug to..." photos featured on the initiative's site. But National Day of Unplugging spokesperson Tanya Shevitz says the number will likely be much higher as 15,000-20,000 people are expected to “engage directly in unplugging events put on either by Reboot or community partners all across the United States and reaching to London and Australia.”
Last year, Shevitz says, 15,000 people participated, up from 10,000 the year before.