Timothy Leary famously said, “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.” But that’s so 20th century. The mantra for this weekend is, “Turn off. Tune off. Drop in.” This evening starts the National Day of Unplugging, and all around the nation—or is it world?—people are being called to cut the umbilical cord that ties them to Silicon Valley by turning off their laptops, desktops, and iPad 2s, and surfing away from Facebook and Twitter for a “digital detox.”
It seems like only a decade ago that “unplugged” meant listening to acoustic Nirvana. Over the past decade, however, more and more people have acquired cell phones, and as SanJose.com reported this Monday, standards of etiquette have dropped. More than nine out of every 10 Americans surveyed (91 percent) admit that they have seen people using mobile technology in annoying ways and places. It’s not just in restaurants and movie theaters either. It’s while driving, while walking, while standing on the checkout line too.
The National Day of Unplugging is a chance to reconnect with people as people, not as bits and bytes. It’s a chance to talk, not text, and sex, not sext. It’s an opportunity to go back in time to those old tested and true forms of communication that helped to develop real interpersonal relationships. The Day of Unplugging runs from sundown Friday evening until sundown on Saturday—which makes it easy for observant Jews. It’s a weekend, so most people won’t lose out on work, so “Turn off. Tune off. Drop in.” There’s a whole world out there that you can’t just find on Facebook and Flickr.