A new ritual: Unplugging for a day of rest

I've been meaning to make a suggestion for a while now: Let's use the Sabbath as an occasion to take a break from digital communication. The only problem is, I'm kind of agnostic.

Maybe it doesn't matter. Here's my proposal: Regardless of your religious persuasion, treat Sunday (or the day of your choice) as a special day where you don't get sucked into the vortex of online communicaton, infotainment, social media and e-shopping.

Instead, do all that stuff you enjoy: walking in the park, going for a drive, playing games, cooking a nice meal for your family and friends, riding your bike, calling your parents or grandparents, hiking in the woods, reading books, having a picnic, visiting the museum… Your stuff is probably different from mine, but never mind. Just do, you know, restful stuff.

I remember when, just 20 years ago, a lot of stores were closed on Sundays. When I lived in England (not the most devout country), it was kind of big news around 1990 or so that some department stores started staying open on the Sabbath. OMG, you can go shopping on a Sunday now! But, do you really need to?

What with it being Holy Week, this seems like a good time to push the idea. Lots of spiritual traditions emphasize spending time in contemplation, fellowship, communion with God and/or nature, so it can be nondenominational (or multi-denominational). Just put aside technology for one day, only 14.28 percent of your week.

I'm happy to report that many people are sharing my wavelength. CNN recently did a story about Reboot, a group of secular Jews urging people to observe 24 hours of freedom from their devices on a "National Day of Unplugging," for the Jewish Sabbath. And no, they're not Luddites! The New York Times describes them as "hip, media-savvy Jewish professionals" from gadget-loving New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Their principles, available at SabbathManifesto.org, are:

  • Avoid technology.
  • Connect with loved ones.
  • Nurture your health.
  • Get
  • Avoid commerce.
  • Light candles.
  • Drink wine.
  • Eat bread.
  • Find silence.
  • Give

I might not be Jewish, but those sound like 10 fine commandments to me.


  1. Synchronicity. Partly because I’m doing research on silence, I recently found the Sabbath Manifesto and have started doing this too. It’s amazing. Would like to share part of a non-Jewish Sabbath with you one of these sunny afternoons!

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