Students plan to leave behind phones, other electronics for National Day of Unplugging

At sundown on March 7, a few brave Eastern Michigan University students will disconnect, venturing into a world without cell phones, without email, without Internet—a world unplugged. No, this isn’t the plot of an Eagle sci-fi drama; it’s the National Day of Unplugging.

Reboot, a Jewish non-profit organization, is encouraging people to put their technology away from sundown March 7 to sundown March 8 so they can experience what it is like to be themselves away from the keyboard and smart phone. The day is designed to help hyper-connected people of all backgrounds embrace the ancient ritual of the day of rest.

“Smart phones are good things, but we become ‘dumb’ when we allow them to over-mediate and control our waking realities,” media ecologist and journalism professor Christine Tracy said in an
EMU press release this week. “We always need a touchstone and an understanding of who we are without any digital tools. It is very important for us to get a glimpse of who and what we could become individually and collectively when we abandon technology and put down our devices—even for a day.”

Millennials—the first generation raised with a computer in the home—make up a large portion of the EMU student body. To many Millennials, a day without screens and technology sounds more stressful than it does restful.

Senior Amanda Major said she will not be participating in the National Day of Unplugging.
“[I] think our society and culture relies on [technology] a lot,” Major said. “I can’t even imagine not being able to call or text people. I feel like I’d just be sitting at home wondering ‘What’s everyone doing tonight?’”

Senior Derek Weese is more confident in his ability to unplug his technology for a day.

“I think it’s realistic to think it can be done,” Weese said. “I think it would be easy actually, well it sounds easy…I’m going to give it a shot. I think it will be interesting.”

Reboot started the unplugging movement with the creation of an organization called the Sabbath Manifesto. They encourage everyone to take an opportunity to “reboot” their inner self and disconnect from all forms of media and technology.

The Sabbath Manifesto would like people to join the “Unplug Challenge” by going to and signing the pledge sheet.

Each person who signs the pledge sheet can appear on the homepage by filling in the blank on an “I unplug to _____” sign with their personal reason for unplugging, and uploading a picture of themselves with their sign.

“We all need to wake up and become more aware of our mostly unconscious dependence on technology,” Tracy said. “A day-long respite is just the first step toward more enlightened use of our digital tools.”

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