How many screens are you plugged into each day? I added up my screen use recently and was up to 4 by 10am: my iPhone, TV for the morning news, my laptop and a satellite computer monitor plugged into my laptop.
Even without knowing Turn Off Week was nearing, the message to me that morning was clear: time to unplug more…and pay more attention to the screen use in my home in general.
Twice a year there’s a national week called Turn Off Week, the most recent of which was Patriot’s Day week, school vacation for many families coast to coast. This new version of the old “TV Turn Off Week” aims to raise awareness of the amount of screens in our lives and our need to unplug and focus on the many parts of our lives not connected to plugs, ear buds and viewed on screens.
Now 16 years old, today’s campaign takes into account the many screens not in existence when the grassroots cause first began with a focus on the one screen in existence at the time, television: computers, MP3 players with screens, portable game consoles and cell phones. When the cause first began, televisions were located only in homes and hotels. Today, screens are in cars, hotels, taxis, restaurants, bars and big public areas such as Times Square, New York. Indeed, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get away from a screen most days, even if we don’t plug in our own!
National awareness weeks, though, don’t create daily change or help us create daily habits that help us create balance unless we use those weeks to make changes that have staying power.
One of the best “unplugged” movements that I’ve found recently is the Sabbath Manifesto which aims at “slowing down life since 2009”. It’s motto: “slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world” and has ten principles that make great sense with number 1 being “avoid technology”.
The other principles are: “connect with loved ones, nurture your health, get outside, avoid commerce, light candles, drink wine, eat bread, find silence and give back”. All easy, simple concepts that help create a full and fruitful life but are much sweater if enjoyed with out the distraction of plugs!
The best part of these principles is how loose they are. They leave room for every person and family to craft them around their own lives and ideals and to modify them as needed for their own needs. For example, if you are a dry house, replace “wine” with juice or sparkling apple juice. If you have a gluten allergy in your home, replace bread with some other special food. It’s the concept you’re after with these principles, not the literal interpretation…and to do so unhindered by plugs.
My challenge to you this month is simple: unplug with your family once a week – that’s it. Pick a day and go unplugged. Plan a family outing or gather around the dinner table with all your phones off, computer tops down, and phone machines on “do not disturb”. I guarantee you’ll so enjoy the experience that none of you will miss your plugs and will begin looking forward to next week’s family day before the next sun rises.
For more information, I recommend these links:
Dr. Gwenn’s Podcast on Unplugging During Spring Break