Manifesto-a-No-Go? Or, a Manifest(ivus) for the Rest of Us

Cell phone sleeping bags

Take a digital detox as part of National Day of Unplugging—from sunset on Friday, March 23, to Saturday, March 24, 2012.

I live a very plugged-in life. Some moments are more wireless than others but generally my waking hours are structured around technology in various forms. For example, I keep track of the time for our evening dog walk using the alarm clock on my iPhone. I turn to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything iPad app before deciding what’s for dinner. When we have dinner guests, my husband and I open wine bottles using this rechargeable, motorized corkscrew. Then there’s my choice to drive an all-electric car, which is plugged in whenever it’s not in motion. [I do draw the line at those air-fresheners designed for use in a wall plug, but that could be because they take up precious outlet space! But I digress…]

Skirball friend/The Family Savvy/blog maven/entrepreneur Sarah Bowman puts it this way: “Being unplugged will become more and more of a luxury as our screen-addicted kids grow up.” She’s right. I can’t get through breakfast with my extended family without one of my nieces playing a game or taking a photo with one of the three or four adult phones on the table. For so many of us, smart phones are enmeshed in our daily family lives.

Despite this predisposition for being in the know and communicating on the go—or maybe because of it?—I was enthusiastic when the Skirball was approached in early 2011 to take part in an innovative nationwide initiative called the National Day of Unplugging, created by Reboot and described as “a respite from the relentless deluge of technology and information.” At the heart of the initiative is the Sabbath Manifesto, a list of ten principles to strive for one day a week, every week.

I’m not really drawn to manifestos as a rule, and certainly not those authored by Karl Marx, the Unabomber, or fictional character Jerry Maguire. Not one of those guys really motivated me to do much of anything, and certainly none of them inspired me to take on a voluntary writing task (which you are reading now). However, I thought the Sabbath Manifesto appealed strongly in its very clear call to action: hit the brakes, slow it down, unplug just a little. As described by Reboot, “The Sabbath Manifesto is a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.”

Sabbath Manifesto

Posted on the trusty white board in my kitchen, the Sabbath Manifesto keeps me mindful of the things that matter. (And yes, I like the parts about wine and bread and candles.)

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