Was man made for computers or were computers made for man? Can we live without them, if only for a day? It's not exactly an age-old question, but perhaps previous generations worried about their addiction to telegraphy, the Penny Post, or the cleft stick, just as future ones will worry about the fibre-optic inputs surgically inserted into the backs of their necks. Either way, we have a long tradition of giving things up for short periods, and it's probably just as character-building to give up email, text messaging, Twitter and Facebook for a day as to give up any other addiction.
It's something you might want to do on America's second annual National Day of Unplugging (NDU), sponsored by Reboot. The next one is being held from sundown on Friday March 4 to sundown on March 5. It's being promoted by the Sabbath Manifesto, which explains the choice of sundown, and it includes 10 Principles, which are not quite commandments. The first is Avoid technology, but you're also encouraged to "connect with loved ones," "light candles" and "drink wine".
This differs from the old Unplug America - Give Mother Earth a Rest Day, which was started by Native Americans in 1992, in that it has an obvious religious context: the MyJewishLearning website explains the background. But whether or not it's "correct" for Jews to avoid operating computers, mobile phones, and other electrical appliances during the Sabbath for religious reasons, this is irrelevant to UPD. The idea is simply to get people to detach themselves from their digital feeds. This is worth thinking about whichever religion you profess, if any.
It shouldn't be hard, should it? Humanity survived without using computers or mobile phones for many thousands of years, and even in the technologised West, most people lived without them until a dozen or so years ago. It's hard to believe that we can't manage 24 hours without them now.
Do you intend to participate in the National Day of Unplugging? Why? Or why not?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUIZx3OWZh4 Yelp! National Day of Unplugging (reworking Ginsberg's poem, Howl)