National Day of Unplugging: A different detox

Close the computer for a while.

Friday is listed as the national day for, among other things, unplugging. That is, separating yourself from technology to smell the roses.

When Arianna Huffington penned the book “Thrive,” urging readers to “sleep their way to the top” by getting adequate rest, the irony of the situation was not lost on fans of the Huffington Post, the media empire for which Huffington sits at the helm. Was the woman who almost single-handedly took news to the Internet in the early 2000s telling us to disconnect?

Huffington has built a career, along with an impressive amount of political influence and clout, with a tireless approach to entrepreneurship, networking and digital innovation. She is also a millionaire many times over, prompting cynics to blanch at her blatant criticism of modern working culture and technology. Notwithstanding, by lending credibility and an invaluable personal endorsement to her book, “Thrive” took the topic of “unplugging” from the yoga studio to the boardroom, urging users to maintain boundaries around the use of technology in their daily lives.

Gee, are we sure we need a day away from our phones?
Gee, are we sure we need a day away from our phones?


On Friday and Saturday, the organization Reboot urges citizens the world over to observe National Days of Unplugging. In a time where everyone from special interest groups to sports teams can create a “Day” and make it so with a hashtag, these two days will come and go with as much fanfare as National Peanut Butter Day and National Multiple Personalities Day (both are also observed this month).

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Digital Sabbath

Advocates for the Day of Unplugging urge users to take a “digital Sabbath.” Yes, you read that correctly. The initiative was indeed inspired by the Jewish Sabbath and day of rest. That point is of little consequence for the non-Jewish technology consumer as the initiative reads like your typical guide for preventing information overload and burnout. You need not considering converting in order to take a small break from your smartphone.

You may not recognize these strange items - a pen and a journal.
You may not recognize these strange items – a pen and a journal.

There is no shortage of voices behind the wider movement to limit the overuse of technology for business and communication. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker famously refuses to carry a mobile phone. In the Fortune 500 world, Cisco Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior oversees 20,000 people and still takes one full day off a week from her cellphone.

Even with heavyweight names in success and wellness powering down, the concept of digital detoxing is foreign to many who juggle the everyday responsibilities of living, working and parenting in a digital world. It is all well and good, some would say, for Parker to power down – she has 34 assistants at her beck and call. While we all want the health and productivity benefits, the trick is finding a balance between respite and rendering yourself useless to your boss or significant other.

Whether or not you decide to take the unplugging pledge today, science certainly supports Reboot’s basic theory. If the thought of an entire day without technology makes you want to run for the hills clutching your iPad to your chest in fear, start off with a small break like a movie or lunch. Just remember to check your phone at the door.

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