What Did You Do On National Day Of Unplugging?

By Steve Anderson March 04, 2013

The nonprofit organization known as Reboot has been trying to advance the idea that one day a year, we should be just a little less focused on our various electronic gadgets, and from sunset on March 1 to sunset on March 2, people should engage in Reboot's "National Day of Unplugging."But what could be done in such an expanse of time? Well, several technology figures weighed in recently to describe the things that could be done in a day without cables, cords, and the devices that accompany them.

Perhaps one of the biggest ideas cited was exercise. The founder and CEO of Github, Tom Preston-Werner, described his rock climbing experiences at an indoor gym not too far from his office, finding the experience to be a "great way to unplug." But it's not just rock climbing; going for a walk around the block or down the street is a good option too, though for many the cold weather might keep some indoors that wouldn't have ordinarily stayed there.

Reddit's Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian offered up the suggestion of reading a book during the unplugging time, but this particular idea may be tougher to live with than expected. Granted, it's a good idea—literacy is the hallmark of society—but given the number of e-books on the market and the number of websites offering quality news, commentary and discussion, turning to dead-tree sources may be selling the possibilities short.

Just getting outside is a worthwhile concept, one that both Ohanian and Preston-Werner could get behind. Whether it's a walk in the woods or just down the block, city or country, outside is still where fresh air—or its reasonable facsimile—is most commonly found. Additionally, going outside is seldom done without exercise on at least some level, so that's an added advantage.

A new idea came in from a senior researcher at Microsoft, who advanced the idea of a so-called "e-mail sabbatical" in which the user just gets away from e-mail, likening it to a hamster wheel which can never truly be emptied. Editor of The Hairpin, Edith Zimmerman, suggested making conscious decisions to avoid places with Wi-Fi connectivity, removing the temptation to immerse oneself in the Internet and not come back out for anything short of sleep. In addition, The Dish Editor Andrew Sullivan, suggests winnowing out a specific block of time each week, or each day even, when a user can't be reached at all.

Finally, there is always the choice that brings much of the Internet to life in a user's own home, as Ohanian suggests: get a cat. Yes, those things that can be seen on funny videos and pictures with clever captions all over the Web can be had in real life, and they make excellent ways to divorce oneself from screens and cables.

Frankly, I'd say that Reboot made a fundamental mistake putting the National Day of Unplugging in early March. Waiting for a nice spring day in mid to late April, likely would have drawn a lot more interest. Still, every little bit helps, and getting folks away from screens is a worthwhile enough idea. While the timing may not have been the best, it was clear that people, in general, could stand a little less bandwidth and a little more fresh air.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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