“24/6” Living with Tech Shabbat


“24/6” Living with Tech Shabbat

It is amazing. Day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And a month later we will be into 2020. Plans for the holidays are beginning to gel, and everyone seems to be in that “take a breath and recharge” mode for the year to come.

David Leonhardt, writing in the New York Times, has proposed something that may help around your house during the holidays. He has expanded on “Tech Shabbat”, a tradition began in 2010 by Internet Pioneer Tiffany Shlain and her husband Ken Goldberg. In keeping with rest and reflection those of the Jewish Faith find in their weekly Shabbat, the Tech Shabbat is a 24 hour period where the technology we use daily (cell phones, laptops, computers) is turned off and we spend time with our families and friends in non ‘connected’ pursuits. Leonhardt writes:

I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it, I’ll admit, and our kids were even less sure.

But it was wonderful. We hung out with friends, without distraction. We never had to ask, guiltily, “Sorry, what’d you say?” because we had been only semi-listening. In between scheduled activities, we took a walk and played a board game, Settlers of Catan. I spent time thinking about long-term projects instead of replying to unimportant emails. It felt productive, rejuvenating and, yes, fun.

Tiffany Shlain, a filmmaker who popularized the idea of a Tech Shabbat, says that on her day without screens, she laughs more, sleeps better and feels healthier. As she writes in her recent book, “24/6”: “Having one day off each week shocks you anew into the realization of how bizarre it is that everyone is head-down, looking at screens all the time. That should never feel normal.”

This is my gift to you for this holiday season. Follow Tiffany and David and take time out from your connected world. Put the tech away and look up from your lap and say hello to your family and friends. Play a board game, take a walk, talk about “stuff.” Take an hour and just think about your life, or why the dog acts that way. You don’t have to be scholarly, just disconnected.

It will be a new world, living your life with technology “24/6.”

Happy Thanksgiving


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John Van Horn

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