One response to the increasingly frantic and plugged-in character of today’s world can be seen in an initiative entitled “The Sabbath Manifesto”. This manifesto was developed by a small group of artists, writers, filmmakers and media professionals who began to feel the need to respond to an increasingly fast-paced way of living. The idea developed to set aside one day of the week – based on the ancient notion of Sabbath – to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and spend time with loved ones. They created Ten core Principles to guide their efforts on those days, principles such as “Find Silence“, “Avoid Commerce“, “Get Outside”, “Connect with Loved Ones” and “Avoid Technology“. Their efforts to promote reflection on taking periodic vacations from the technology jungle have met with some media interest, and they promote a “National Day of Unplugging” , the next one taking place on March 23-24, 2012. They are not beyond using technology to help them, recommending an app to help people take a “digital detox”. Their site is an encouragement to all to reflect on the role which technology is playing in their lives.
That such a reflection is necessary can be seen in anecdotal reports from some therapists about couples who are so busy that they communicate almost entirely through text, email and phone messages and of families where each member may be in the same room but everyone is on a separate screen, be it a laptop checking mail, or computer gaming, or texting or watching tv. Another increasing phenomenon is that of checking more than one screen at a time, such as checking email or texting while watching television or a movie. Further evidence of technology’s effect can be seen in ongoing research on the brain, which I will look at in the next post.