On Friday evening, people across the country will turn off their cell phones and laptops to observe the fourth annual National Day of Unplugging. The event is part of the growing “slow tech” movement, which promotes mindful and balanced use of technology. We’ll discuss why you might need a break from your electronics, and the best ways to unplug.

Interview Highlights

A National Day of Unplugging 1 March,2013forum

Tanya Schevitz, national communications manager and San Francisco programs coordinator for Reboot, a Jewish nonprofit which sponsors the National Day of Unplugging
Levi Felix, co-founder of Digital Detox, an organization that runs tech-free retreats and promotes more mindful use of technology
Matt Richtel, Pulitzer Prize-winning technology writer for The New York Times and author of the new novel "The Cloud," a fictional thriller about the relationship between people and their technology

  • disqus_PKax5GoFwl

    Unfortunately, I won’t be able to listen to the program at 10:00 a.m. (due to work!) but I wanted to remind listeners that the concept of “unplugging” is thousands of years old in the Jewish Shabbat. Every single week of every single year, observant Jews around the world observe 25 hours of “unplugging”: no driving, no cooking with flame, etc in order to “plug in” to family, community, G-d, prayer and the world. Rabbi Joshua Heschel characterized this precious 25-hour period as “a sanctuary in time.” I encourage everyone – Jew and non-Jew – to try it! It has brought me greater balance, perspective and connection to my community, the environment and the world. Shabbat Shalom! Richard S. (Mission/Castro, San Francisco)

    • thucy

      Shomer Shabbos!
      Or as Walter Sobchak put it:
      “I told that Kraut down at the league a (bleeping) thousand times: ‘I don’t roll on Shabbos!'”

  • Alonso

    If Forum is promoting the virtues of disconnecting, then they should play a solid hour of dead air. Eliminating the stimulation of talk and sound, promos, and all the stable of blathering radio announcers would be a great shock to media addicts this morning, and it might help illustrate the point. But it’s not in the interest of even educational radio to not have the masses all distracted.

  • I’ll be Frank

    We shouldn’t disconnect per se. We should choose better things to connect to. We all need to think critically about the sources of information and entertainment that we pay attention to, in terms of devices, news outlets and individual apps, journalists and bloggers, and then eliminate from our consideration the obvious junk like Facebook, in the US Mainstream Media, texting and Twitter.


    The frenetic tone of this discussion borders on hilarious. Think outside the box, people.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    A year ago for Lent we gave up watching any television, and after Lent we liked being television free that we gave the television set away. Since then we have restricted our phone use to needed calls, and use the computer for fun as a reward.
    Although I do listen to KQED FM via the laptop. Thus its learning to use any technology wisely. Sadly I think we have way to many Americans who are afraid to be alone or even quiet, which is seen with how many people you literally can bump into walking down a street with their eyes on their iPhone/pad texting.

  • There is a spot north of San Francisco about 2 hours called Wilbur Hot Springs. It’s a pretty ancient place, in general, but it is also untouched by modern tech. There’s no internet, there’s no cell signal – your phone wouldn’t even work if you wanted it to. No TV, etc.

    What’s funny, after two days, you are more connected than ever. =) If just yourself, or with a partner, it will blow your mind the way you quickly reconnect and feel calm, and peace. It’s too rare. I search for it constantly now.

  • Suzanne

    My family and I aren’t Jewish, but we observe the 24-hour unplugging, fully Orthodox Jewish style, every Friday night. We’ve done it for a while now, and have really come to look forward to it-even to NEED it. Our friends and family have learned that we are observing Shabbos, and they respect it.

    The unexpected benefit of it is that once we’re back online, it’s so refreshing and nice! It makes electronics seem like what they should be: exciting tools!

    We’ve also noticed that if we miss a week of this observance, we are exhausted! 🙂

  • Susan

    I am a retired physician who while I was working was sometimes horrified to walk into an exam room and have to wait for my patient to get off her phone before I could initiate the visit. I am particularly worried about the digital generation because among other things they seem so disconnected from others that they have no manners. Devices clearly promote being in one’s own world and reinforce the notion that we are all here for our own needs and gratification and to heck with the rest of the world.

  • Your listeners might like to read this Sunset article that is about a week old – the growing trend of unplugging, and some GREAT advice at the end of the article for how to implement changes:


  • Echo

    I must admit, I find the idea of having a “unplugging day” somewhat absurd, that shows how much we rely on technology nowadays, to say the least. But I also understand the importance of being connected, how powerful it is and makes us feel, it sometimes gives us the impression that we are in control. We are going on a road of no turning back.

    As for myself, I have an iphone, but I keep it off for most part of the day, mainly because I work in the office, I have a phone and internet, I don’t need to travel for work, and if I want to talk to my friends, I call or email them, or send them a greeting card. My husband and I use the cellphone mainly for emergency purpose, or when we are traveling, it does come in handy. For us, “unplugging” isn’t hard or even necessary, because we are “unplugged” most of the time. I guess we are maybe the fewer lucky ones who don’t understand and experience the pressure of constantly needing to be”connected”. Instead of constantly checking, in our spare time, we read books, and listen to music. We feel content and peaceful.

  • Karen

    Great show!!! am unplugging now. maybe.

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