Leading the Movement to Unplug
We knew that Virgin was planning on doing something for the National Day of Unplugging (NDU), but having the entirety of Virgin’s social media accounts go dark was a testament to the universal notion that we all need to take some time to disconnect from our devices. On top of that, Richard Branson himself wrote a blog post about the inherent benefits of taking time to unplug. However, it wasn’t just Richard Branson unplugging on March 9-10; he was one of thousands of people who took part in the NDU. Around the world, there were over 60,000 participants at 926 events who unplugged together with us at Reboot! It’s not just about how many people participated, it’s about how the NDU changed their lives; over 91% of participants decreased their digital consumption 86% were inspired to add more days of unplugging into their life.
Now in its 9th year, the National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – sundown to sundown – in early March. The project is an outgrowth of The Sabbath Manifesto, an adaptation of our ancestors’ ritual of carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones. Created by Reboot, a non-profit organization aiming to re-imagine Jewish tradition, the NDU has since grown nationally - and beyond. Now, there are many ways to get involved: from taking an individual pledge to unplug, to attending community partner and Reboot’s signature events, and even signing up to host your own local unplugged event. The common thread was that people found their own meaningful way to join in.
Reboot’s signature unplugging events took place in our core cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Detroit. We were at Jack White’s Third Man Records in Detroit, unplugging at the San Francisco Symphony with OneTable and Adam Swig, and we were on the Eastside and in Venice in LA. We launched our Chicago work with Catalyst Ranch, and in New York, we held a story slam at JCC Harlem and climbed the walls at Brooklyn Boulders. Each event had its own flare - but all celebrated unplugging and Shabbat, with heavy focus on participants enjoying the moment without the constant buzz of their phone.
Unplugged Partners Across the Country
Using our tools, our partners hosted a wide range of events that were as diverse as the communities participating. From Hillel Shabbat dinners to DayBreaker early morning parties, school districts, yoga studios, and museums, our partners put together deep, meaningful and authentic unplugged experiences. As in years past, we distributed our signature cell phone sleeping bags to partners hosting events. 35,000 people placed their cell phone in the bag to unplug this year alone! Our partners shared their excitement and enthusiasm for the NDU and over 95% are highly likely to participate again - we hope they will!
“I think [our community members] learned that unplugging isn't just about the following the halakha, but that there is a spiritual/social benefit as well.”
Finding Meaning for Yourself
The impact of the NDU was felt deeply by those who participated. Over 90% reported that their participation increased their awareness about their personal digital consumption and that the NDU raised their awareness about the importance of reclaiming time to connect with loved ones.
“I felt much calmer than I had anticipated. I didn't feel all of the anxiety that I do daily reading headlines and tweets as they occur. I didn't realize how addicted I was to a feed until I didn't pay attention.”
While it’s a bit ironic to be mentioning media attention around the NDU, the buzz continues to grow around this project. We were featured in The New York Times, The Conversation, Lifehacker, Inc.com, CNBC, Lonely Planet and so many more. Even Dunkin' Donuts and Katie Couric were in on the action.
What’s Next? Join Us!
While the 2018 National day of Unplugging is behind us, there’s plenty of ways to stay involved. You can host an unplugging event at any time and utilize our digital resources by signing up to host an event. Over 90% of our partners would recommend partnering with the NDU, so we hope you’ll take their word and join us. Pro tip: our unplugging tools are great for summer camps!