The need for unplugging is immense. The average person spends about 70 hours per month on their phone, and for young adults aged between 18-24, it’s increased to 94 hours. In fact, 43% of Americans never unplug, allowing their phones to dominate their lives. Being constantly immersed in technology enables us to stay close with those who are far away, but can also separate us from those who are right in front of us. This is where the National Day of Unplugging comes in. It lets us reconnect with what is within reach, to take advantage of what we are passionate about, and be invested in it without being distracted by technology.
Unplugging for 24 hours is not a novel concept to observant Jews who practice the custom weekly as a part of Shabbat. However, for non-religious Jews, and non-Jews alike, the concept of unplugging is not such a familiar idea. When our lives are so “plugged-in” it is important to take a step away from our technology: our phones, tablets, computers, emails and social media in order to see what is real and physical in our lives and be present in the moment.
The National Day of Unplugging (NDU) takes place during the first weekend of March, during the traditional Sabbath, from sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday. It etches out a special time of the week to relax and recharge and brings it to a modern and accessible place where all can engage in the ancient practice.
This year’s NDU was our most successful yet! Along with our partners, we hosted 300 live events around the world, where 45,000 unplugged in all types of settings. We held signature events in our core cities: NYC, LA, SF and Chicago, and our community partners held events and gatherings in locations from Alaska and Australia, to India and Indiana. Beyond our events, we had nearly 8,000 individuals take a pledge to unplug with us.
There were a number of unique signature events produced by Reboot this year. With Brooklyn Boulders in New York City, we hosted an event with rock climbing, yoga, vision workshops, discussions with Folk Rebellion, typewritten poetry, a photobooth and a live acoustic band. In Los Angeles, and in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, we held an unplugged party, featuring live music, performing arts, spoken word readings, and face painting. In San Francisco, we welcomed guests to an unplugged Shabbat experience at the Aquarium of the Bay. It was a wonderful undersea experience, where participants could focus on each other, their magnificent surroundings and the inhabitants of the aquarium..
All in all we distributed 20,000 cell phone sleeping bags, our must-have unplugging accessory, which has proven to be a useful tool to help add intention to the practice of unplugging.
This year’s NDU received significant media attention, as the project was featured on NBC, NY1, CBS This Morning, Fox News, among others. On social media, the Blue Man Group, M&M’s, Sprint and Chester the Cheetah all mentioned the NDU by creating graphics, gifs and memes specifically for the National Day of Unplugging.
This year we had an ever wider variety of partners. From individuals to organizations, families and groups of friends, to religious, secular and cultural institutions, yoga studios, parks departments, and more. Everyone wanted to unplug and reconnect. We were elated with the success of NDU this year, and are looking forward to making next year’s our best yet, and to continue growing in the years to come.
How will you unplug?