In a few hours, the National Day of Unplugging will begin as the sun sets. Five years have passed since I discovered this "holiday," and I've watched its popularity increase with each annual unplugging. The more time we spend in front of screens, the more drawn we are to stepping away from those screens. The National Day of Unplugging has become a motivation for people around the world to reconnect face-to-face instead of live on Facebook.
With time and effort, I've tried to incorporate unplugging into some daily and weekly rituals. It's hard to do, but I sense the benefits in spirit, soul, and body when unplugging is a priority. If powering off your cell phone for 24 hours and putting it in a sleeping bag (yes, it's a real thing that you can can get from the Unplugging website) isn't feasible, I offer to you a few simple suggestions for healthy disconnects.
1. When your phone battery reaches a certain percentage of battery power (I choose 70%), plug it in to charge. Then walk away from the phone. Don't text or email or scroll while it's charging. Give the phone time and space to rejuvenate. Stretch. Unload the dish washer. Listen to some music.
2. Limit yourself to one screen at a time. If you're typing an email on the computer, don't talk on the phone simultaneously. While watching a TV show with your family, don't peruse social media on your tablet. Multiple screens divide our attention, and thus our devotion. Multitasking may make us efficient for the moment, but multi screening prevents us from developing focus of high quality.
3. Buy a timer. No, not the timer installed on your phone, tablet, or computer. An old-fashioned timer that only works as a timer. Flip the switches on your devices to "off." Set the timer for a certain number of minutes or hours. Perhaps begin with 15-20 minutes, and try to increase it a little each week. Leave the devices powered off until the timer makes that annoying BEEP or BONK sound. Punch the proper button to silence the timer.
Unplugging doesn't have to mean an extreme disconnect that cuts us off from one another. Instead, unplugging can reconnect us to the still, small voice drowned out by megabytes and notifications. Unplugging in small ways can plug us in to the larger picture of how God is moving in this big and beautiful world.
How do you unplug? Which practices deepen your relationships with God and others? What are the benefits you experience from heeding Jesus' invitation?
all good things to each of you,