Are you feeling worn out? Are you always checking your e-mails or instant messages? Well…you’re not alone. Millions of people are feeling fatigued from over use and dependence on their tech gadgets. A non-profit Jewish group called “Reboot” decided to start a grassroots project called the “Sabbath Manifesto” which aims to encourage people to turn off their gadgets and start living a more balanced life. So they started the National Day of Unplugging which allows you to put down your smartphones, tablets, turn off your computers and TVs and from sundown to sunset go out and see your friends and enjoy nature.
Even though it is inspired by religious observances on the Sabbath, the weekly day of rest, it has also struck a chord with non-religious people who have jumped on the bandwagon organizing events to spread the word about how becoming “unwired” can energize our lives.
Reboot’s National Communications Manager Tanya Schevitz, tells us the positive impact taking a tech break can have. “People want to stop living through Facebook and Twitter and reconnect with family, friends and the community around them in real life.” The Sunday Morning Digital Life, an online newspaper based in Sydney, Australia, reports that Amie Liebowitz, 20, a student at the University of Sydney, plans to take part. She describes herself as ”always connected in every way possible” and anticipates 24 hours away from her screens will be very difficult.
”I guess we always say ‘FOMO’, which is fear of missing out, and with social media you just develop this need to know everyone’s business all the time, which is really unhealthy and I can recognize this. But I have this massive fear of not seeing what my friends are doing,” she says.
They go on to report that according to a survey from hotel chain Travelodge, 72 per cent of those interviewed checked social networking sites in bed before going to sleep, while 65 per cent checked and sent text messages last thing at night. Perhaps most startling of all, 20 per cent of those who checked their phone in bed admitted interrupting sex to read text messages.
Larry Rosen, author of iDisorder and a professor of psychology at California State University has studied the effects of technology and how they can induce psychological disorders. He says that: ”One day will not change anything. What needs to change is an understanding of what we are doing to our brains and how to reset or calm them periodically to help us learn how to focus and attend to our world without getting overwhelmed and anxious.” He thinks that people should stop a little bit every 2 hours to lessen their addiction to technological devices. It sounds as if we need to exercise our brains just like we exercise our necks and backs after sitting at a desk too long.
Of course that’s not the real point behind the National Day of Unplugging. The people behind the Sabbath Manifesto just want to remind people that we needed feel wired to feel that we exist and that there is a “simpler, less networked way to live.” Generations X and Y now have the “social” permission to leave Facebook and Twitter for awhile and interact with people face to face.
Watch these people who express how they felt about “unplugging” in 2012 (March 20-21):
So…if you’re like millions of people who have already “unplugged”, here are the 10 Core Principles to observe according to the Sabbath Manifesto:
The Ten Core Principles
Many years ago, God said, “six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in plowing time and in harvest thou shalt rest”. This is a passage found in Exodus 34:21 from the American Standard Version of the Bible.
In the Sabbath Manifesto, they encourage people to follow the rituals of our ancestors from sunset to sunset, one day a week.Any background, nationality, and religion are encouraged to participate and do not need to be of Jewish descent.The celebration of Sabbath in Jewish traditions begin from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. The root of the word “Sabbath” means to rest and it especially emphasizes family, friends, and food.
1. Avoid technology
Although this principle suggests keeping away from technologies, it actually means to take some time to appreciate the various technologies that made our lives easier today. According to the Bible (Genesis 2:2),God stopped creating on the seventh day of creation. He took the time to look around himself to appreciate the various objects he made before resuming. People in the 21st century rely much on their technological devices to complete their never ending works. By avoiding the use of technologies, Sabbath refreshes and relaxes the people’s mind such that they are able to complete their given tasks.
This principle generated the most comments out of the 10 on the home page of the Sabbath Manifesto. The majority of the comments are very positive towards this particular principle with people indicating the activities they have done to celebrate Sabbath.
2. Connect with Loved Ones
It has always been in Jewish traditions that friends and families gather together on the day of Sabbath to celebrate this blessed day. The busy lifestyle of today makes it difficult for family gatherings and because of this; a lot of people can take advantage of Sabbath to meet up with family members that they have not seen for a long time. As part of the tradition, parents will bless their children during the gathering. According to Jay Michaelson, a Ph.D candidate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, making love on the day of Sabbath is also a Jewish tradition.One could value the romance with their loved one without thoughts of business related matters wandering the mind.
3. Nurture Your Health
The majority of people in today’s society work full-time from Monday to Friday, some working even on a Saturday. After a long week of work, Sunday is regarded as a well-deserved day of rest. According to the Bible (Genesis 2:2), on the seventh day of creating the world, God stopped. This is exactly what people do in today’s society as Sabbath means a day where people do not have to wake up early in the morning to attend work or school, a day where people could ignore their boss as well as a day where people can repair their worn-out body from a week of endless work.
4. Getting Outside
Sabbath is a day of rest and it suggests that people should leave their house and participate in various activities with their friends or family members. By leaving the house, one is not trapped within a closed environment for hours and by doing so, fresh oxygen is available to refresh the mind of an individual. Meditation is also an excellent method of relaxing. The Jewish form of meditation, Hitbodedut, is done to relax the mind and body of an individual while surrounded by mother nature.
5. Avoid Commerce
The day of Sabbath primarily focuses on the theme of resting. Not doing and attending business related works are considered part of resting; however, there is more meaning towards the specific term. According to the Talmud, a context compiled of Jewish ethics, philosophy, customs and laws, stated that there are 39 rules that the Jews have to follow on the day of Sabbath.Most of these prohibitions come down to one general statement and that is to not create something physically. For example, lighting up a fire is not allowed on Sabbath due to the above reason. By making a fire, one has physically brought the flame to the world, thus creating “something” that originally was not there. Since God stopped making things on the seventh day of creation, the Jewish believe that they also should not be allowed to create objects on the day of Sabbath to truly honor this blessed day.
6. Light Candles
Sabbath usually begins with the lighting of two symbolic candles at sunset. One candle is called shamor, meaning to keep or protect, and the other candle is called zachor, to remember. Lighting candles also represent festivity which brings together family and friends during a meal. A great medieval Jewish thinker named Maimonides, once said that, “the candles are an integral part of the Sabbath’s delight”.
7. Drink Wine
Sabbath begins on Friday night and typically the Kiddush ceremony is held before the Sabbath meal. Kiddush is the tradition of sanctifying Sabbath and other Jewish holidays with the blessing of wine.Maimonides said that drinking wine associates Sabbath with a positive physical taste.
8. Eat Bread
With the busy schedule of the modern day man, people are accustomed to eating take-out and microwave processed foods. However, with Sabbath, people are encouraged to take the time to prepare home cooked meals. This day should be celebrated with family and friends. At Sabbath meals, the ritual of placing two loaves of bread on the table symbolizes a full meal and a time of rejoicing.
9. Find Silence
Not talking is a form of taking a break from the usual activities of humans. Meditating is an idyllic way to separate oneself from the world and all its distractions. Aryeh Kaplan, an American Orthodox Rabbi, wrote in his book that biblical prophets are able to “”engage in external isolation, secluding themselves from the general populace…There they could meditate on God and His works without interruption.”Finding silence enables people to reflect on themselves and all of life’s blessings.
10. Give Back
Before the lighting of candles, it’s tradition to give coins to charity. It has been said that this enables others to spend future Sabbaths without the worry of money. However, giving back may continue even after the lighting of candles. Hachnasat orhim is the concept of inviting people in your home so that others can experience the celebration of Sabbath.The people may consist of family, friends, and even strangers.
The Sabbath Manifesto partnered with VolunteerMatch to launch the “Unplug & Giveback Campaign” where volunteer enthusiasts are able to look for nonprofit organizations and become connected. This will encourage people to use all of their free time from unplugging and volunteer in the community.