A “Technology Sabbath” to Alleviate Info Overload?

by on June 5, 2008 · 18 comments

Last week I noted how I struggled to get through a 5-day vacation without the Internet, blogs, e-mail and my other daily informational inputs. I was both trying to see if I could do it and also giving in to the pleading of my family, who had been asking me to stay away from the Net and electronic gadgets for at least one vacation.

Mark Glaser of MediaShift has taken it a step further and is experimenting with the idea of a “technology sabbath,” i.e., taking one day at week to relax and get away from technology to ponder or experience other things. Here’s how he explains it:

So, being that I am Jewish — though not very religious — I decided to shut down the computer each Friday night at sunset until Saturday at sunset, the traditional time of the Jewish Sabbath. I make exceptions when I need to get directions or check for a personal email. I still use my cell phone but try to limit it to personal calls only. While this day of technological rest can be a difficult routine, it has allowed me to stretch my time, spend more hours outside and be with people more in face-to-face settings.

And I’m not alone. The concept of a “Technology Sabbath” is becoming more widespread, both in religious circles and among bloggers and media people who are overwhelmed with the always-on nature of the broadband Internet and smartphones. And that overwhelming feeling is exacerbated by instant messaging, social networking and services such as Twitter, that allow us to do more informal communications electronically rather than in person.

Boy, I just don’t think I could do it. At least not on a set basis. Some weekends, mostly without even thinking about it, I don’t turn on my computer or any gadgets because I’m playing with the kids, busy doing home renovations, driving my sports car, or entertaining guests. But it’s still pretty rare for me to make it through the entire day–even on the weekend–without ever cracking open my laptop. Not sure I would be able to set aside an entire day on a regular basis to go techno-free.

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