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Heidi Sinclair

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Can You Unplug for 24 Hours?

Posted: 03/22/2012 2:28 pm

I asked my 17-year-old son this the other night. At first he said "no way." Then he thought about it and said "yes, because it is Friday night to Saturday night and I don't need to go on the Internet for school." But when I said it meant texting too, he balked. "I could never do that!"

I make my living promoting technology, but I am going to unplug. My husband is going to unplug and I am hoping my children can figure out how to unplug in order to experience the third annual National Day of Unplugging fully. I am going on Facebook and Twitter to encourage everyone in my community to take the causes.com pledge. We need a break, we need to unplug and get to know ourselves and one another -- the real us.

The National Day of Unplugging was created by Reboot, a non-profit organization that encourages the hyper-connected to take a respite from all things digital, to leave the virtual world and get real.

Getting real and having real relationships in our digitally connected lives was the topic of avowed technologist Sherry Turkle at TED last month. Sherry spent the past fifteen years studying the effect of personal technology devices on adults and teenagers, then wrote about it in her powerful book Alone Together. What she discovered is that by letting technology into our lives in an unbounded fashion, we are not only losing the art of conversation and the ability to truly relate to one another, we are losing our emotional lives. Sherry says the answer is in putting the technology in its place: to unplug, to use it to facilitate intimacy, not replace it. It is time for all of us to unplug for one day. Here is how I plan to spend those 24 hours:

Friday night, I am going to go to dinner with my husband, and if we get lost going to the restaurant, well then maybe we will discover something new. We'll come home and play cards. I will beat my husband, again. I won't check my email or texts in the middle of dinner or before I go to bed. My phones, my tablet, my computer will be turned off.

I think we'll go skiing on Saturday and we won't check the snow report every 20 minutes. We'll see what comes our way. I won't stop mid-run and answer the phone like I did last time I skied, only to have some guy shoot down that unpatched line of powder I had my eye on.

Saturday evening, we'll take supper over to my parents. My dad is battling multiple myeloma and I cherish a quiet evening to rehash the week together more than anything. Come Sunday, I am thinking I will not rush to turn on again. I will ease slowly back into that busy, frenetic world that lies just at my fingertips.

What will you do with your 24 hours?