It’s just 24 hours.

A week unplugged is a lot. But could you do a day?

The National Day of Unplugging is an initiative from the Sabbath Manifesto, a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.

Sounds like my kind of project.

I’ll be taking part and if you’d like to join in you can sign up here. I can’t figure out how to sign up if you don’t have a Facebook account. If anyone figures it out let me know.

Recently I found this post on a blog called Last American Childhood after the writer left a comment here. It was Internet serendipity. I just reread the Pressfield book the writer quotes below. I just wrote a few hundred words the other night after closing my Internet browser. I just renewed my commitment to acting with intention and no more Zombie surfing.

Rachel (there are so many of us) writes about her decision to cancel her Facebook account but it could be about anything that we’re giving our time and attention to that isn’t nourishing us in some way. From Don’t be scared at Last American Childhood:

… how to explain to a four year old why you are staring at the computer looking at pictures of someone you just saw that morning who lives across the street rather than playing trains with him. A question I’m no longer willing to put myself in the position of having to answer. It is one thing to bat a child away because you have to work, talk to a friend, make dinner, relax or work on a song or a story. But to do it for no other reason than to find out a friend you haven’t seen in 10 years got a chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream with too much vanilla is unconscionable. There is no explanation. As Steven Pressfield says in The War of Art,It’s one thing to lie to yourself, it’s another to believe it.” Am I going to let yet another decade go by without publishing a novel? Yet another 5 years go by before I finish the last Dimestore EP? Another year go by before I put Wally’s baby pictures into something resembling a scrapbook? The first daffodils of the season are in full bloom. There’s opera in the air. I’m canceling my Facebook account, and I’ll see you outside in the world, or in my memories, or in my dreams. (I’m totally fine — this is not meant to sound dramatic, but worse than dramatic is the giving away of your life and your time gradually, by degrees, in a series of tiny, undetectable degrees.)

This is a gifted writer. I’m glad she’s finding more time to work on her art. I want to read that novel. I want to listen to those songs.

Join me this weekend?

Put away your smart phone and shut down the family computer on Friday night.

Take that time you would have spent checking email, browsing JCrew or pinning craft projects on Pinterest and use it to feed yourself in some way. Cook, read, rest or create. Take those tiny undetectable degrees back.

They don’t feel like much in a day.

But in a month, in a year, in a life time, they add up.

Those small degrees are novels, half marathons and vital sleep. They are sex and fun and love and finding something new and wonderful.

They are yours.

Take them back.

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  • So many Rachels! I love this post, and not just because you quoted me (I’m actually quite mortified that I used the word “degrees” twice in one sentence w/out realizing it, in such a public way! (Posted out to 300 Facebook “friends” before disappearing.) I’ve already felt such a radical change in my life — in just a week. My memory feels sharper, things are more connected, I am less impatient, I don’t feel as much of that vague, undefined anxiety that used to underlie everything. Partly I think that is the bombardment of senseless info we expose ourselves to, and the sense that you’re missing or forgetting something or someone’s birthday or art opening or latest pictures of a trip to Argentina. It’s an impossible task to remember and keep up with all those alerts and pings and messages and possibilities. And the thing is — you *are* missing out, when you immerse yourself in that sea of endless, useless info–you’re missing out on your life. Thank you for this great post. I will take the pledge (if possible, w/out FB); I will definitely join in by unplugging! Thanks for quoting me–and I love that sense of stars aligning with us both being so inspired by The War of Art. I had read it a few years back, and then found it at the library again. I started typing quotes in a file to have the ones I really liked saved, and then it turned into retyping almost half the book. Not sure that was the best waste of time, but maybe it was. “The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the same battle must be fought anew everyday.” (Steven Pressfield). Press on, write on, keep dreaming and not just dreaming, but actually spending your days the way *you* want to spend them.

  • Meant to say “best use of time” rather than “best waste of time”. Hmmm. Best waste of time is something to keep in mind though. People tell me they need “downtime” or something mindless to help them relax. I think that’s totally fine! Just make sure it’s the best waste of time. Like, I’d rather read –even something crappy like Glamour–than poke around online most of the time. And yet, if left to my instincts, I’ll poke around online. Addiction. Hard to crack. (Though I’m so glad it took me to your site!!)

  • I don’t have a FB account & on some levels I have seriously felt left out of the current hip loop…but on another level – I’m unburdeoned by FB & everything that goes along with it. Sure I could be reconnecting with old childhood friends I vaguely remember. Sure I could find outvwhatever happened to (fill in the blank). Sure I could keep up with the nieces & what’s going on with them. Sure I could stalk old boyfriends fom high school & college. Sure I could find out if that bitchy cheerleader is now fat & 3 times divorced. Sure I could find out what many of my old co-workers & friends are doing at any given moment.
    Sure I could do & that, but I don’t. I don’t care enough to care about what ever happened to some vague friend I knew in 4th grade. I don’t need to know that my 21 yr old niece is out drinking with her grrrl’s checking out the boyz. I don’t want to know you just checked in at Old Navy to buy swimsuits for your upcoming cruise. I’m generally not very interested in knowing any of that. So why jump on the FB train just because everyone else?
    So I haven’t.
    It’s been awkward though I must admit. People don’t quite believe I can survive without a FB account. How can I be so disconnected ? I must be anti-social they suspect. Yeah, I suppose by not signing up to social sites I am perceived that way, but again, I don’t care. I’ve always been a private person, which by today’s “everything & everyone is an open book” FB standards – I’m the oddball by keeping my life on the downlow.
    Mostly I’m just off doing my daily life thing – which borders mostly on the uneventful. I don’t have a terribly exciting life & that’s cool by me. I can’t imagine needing to broadcast that I just cleaned out my gutters or that I just ordered new food bowls for the pets. Yawn. Details at 11.
    I know folks who swear that FB is the only way they can stay connected to their other family members. They all say that in a tone that implies they themselves would never have signed up but really they had “no choice”. Or they do it for work reasons. Total bullshit. I find most (not all, but most) folks just simply don’t want to be left out. They are the looky-loo’s at car wrecks. The gawkers who run to watch the schoolyard kids beat each other up. Folks busy oolging/watching other people living their lives. Modern day voyeurs.
    Wow, that does sound like fun…..on second thought maybe I should sign up (she says with tongue planted firmly in cheek).

  • Jane – I love how you just call people out on that “no choice” rationale for being part of such a meaningless time suck. I’ve been surprised at the number of almost angry/defensive sounding responses to my saying that I cancelled Facebook. “The only way to stay connected” is definitely way up there. Some admit to curiosity factor. Others say that you will miss out on invites/parties etc. b/c now people only send out invites through Facebook. I guess they don’t realize that’s exactly what I’m hoping will happen!

    • I had a former co-worker show me around FB & she tried her hardest to convince me what a valuable asset/tool FB was, but all I saw was one too many vacation photo’s from friends she only keeps up with on FB – but wholeheartedly admits she wouldn’t want to spend actual face to face time with! Crazy!
      She showed me how her hiking group updated the latest get-together which essentially was an embedded link taking you to their website. The same group also sent out email newsletters & you could subscribe RSS to their website – so talk about redundant.
      She also showed me that her husband had been befriended by a former high school girlfriend…but that she was ok with that. Really ok. No, really. Really, she trusted him. Why wouldn’t she trust him. Its just an old friend. What’s to worry. She’s not worried. There’s nothing to worry about. Really. It’s really ok.
      ……to which I asked….are you sure you’re ok with that ’cause you sure sound like you are trying to convince yourself of that and not so much me. To which she replied after a painfully long silent pause that yeah, she’s ok with it. Then proceeded to drift away in her deep thoughts. She sure the heck didn’t convince me she was indeed ok with it & it was painfully obvious from her body language & actions she too was terribly not at ease with it either.
      Last I heard that particular co-worker (who had long since changed jobs) & her husband had separated.
      Oh really. Not surprising.

  • Jane you are a scream! I realized I should clarify that I’m not Rachel, the writer of this blog (I have a blog–Last American Childhood)–but I’m not the Minimalist Mom, just so I’m not responding to your comments under false pretenses).

    You are absolutely hilarious….that is so funny. Really, okay. It’s okay. What’s to worry.!! Hah! The fact that they’ve since separated is amazing, too, though not at all surprising. Just amazing for the story value of that anecdote. I find the same dynamic everywhere…people trying so hard to convince themselves of all kinds of things. That their husband is a saint, that their lives are great (Facebook all about doing PR for yourself), that they never get annoyed with their kids. Meanwhile, I find the people most willing to open up and complain about stuff, and/or admit to worrying, are usually the happiest. Are you a writer? You seem like you would be. If not, can I steal that scene idea for one of my novels?

    • LOL, no not a writer. Just a regular person. Steal my quotes/posts all you want/need for your novel – I’m happy to oblige.

      Funny thing about folks trying hard to portray such dashing & diverse lives on FB – hang out a bit in a hair salon. I’m a firm believer that some hair “chemicals” found at hair salons are in fact truth serum chemicals.

      That’s where you’ll REALLY find out that Lucy’s perfect little straight-A special snowflake has chronic head lice. That JoLeen’s perfect husband secretly wears her unmentionables. Around Bill the plumber. That the Grant family took a cruise to the Caribbean alright, but dipped into their 401K to do so. That Mary’s fab new rustic getaway home in the country is really the double wide behind her parents house as her own home was finally foreclosed on. That Gail’s eldest son (you know the one who broke all academic & sports records in high school) is now living in the gorgeous mountain area of Upstate Whereever. True. But only because the prison board sent him there for his 20 year sentence.

      I’m a bit of a doubting Thomas I admit, but I’m also pretty grounded in the fact that I can spot an imposter without even trying & what I’ve seen on FB – there are a lot of those. Maybe the constant comparison will reset the already too-high bar back down to a more obtainable and a more realistic level one of these days.

      But me being me….I doubt that.

  • I’ll be doing such a half marathon this weekend, and definitely will be unplugged during! Even from my iPod – I run with Buddies. I’m unplugging 8-13 April (so not joining the one coming up – but would have done otherwise) – no choice really. Going to Wales, I’m blaming the lack of signal on all those beautiful Hills! Quite happy with that – it’s enforced, no sneaky peeking for me. (p.s. The Pressfield book was fab – it was a re-read every so many lines job and let it sink in. Stunning! – Reading ‘Death By Suburb’ at the mo and moving on to ‘Enjoy every sandwich’ shortly, after I’ve devoured a little more Edward Cullen)…

  • I am having exams and assessments from this Sat. until mid- April, so I’m off reading blogs and zombie browsing for a while too.

  • I didn’t participate, because my family does this every week. On Sundays we go 24 hours without any screens: no TV, phone, computers, video games.

    I love the quote about Facebook! I permanently deleted my account months ago and have never regretted it. I have been meaning to write about why, but couldn’t clarify my thoughts. I love what the author above had to say.

  • Jane – with those stories you really seem like you would be a writer! Probably true re: hair salon. As part of my “frugal living” I cut my own hair or have a friend do it generally, so I miss out on that stuff!

    Carrie – thanks for saying that about what I wrote re: Facebook. It’s so cool to hear others having the same experience. The day after I dropped it, I felt mixed, a little uneasy. But since then not once have I regretted it or wondered what was happening in that virtual world. Plus I’ve gotten so much more done! And slept more!!

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