Every week from Friday at 5pm through Saturday at 5pm, I take a mental break from my business, all social media, emails, and texting if at all possible. For 24 consecutive hours, I am unplugged, unavailable, and living in the moment. How did this all start? And why would I choose to do such a thing?
My #techshabbat journey began in 2019 when I read a book 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week” by Tiffany Shlain. In that book Tiffany talks about how unplugging from devices for one day a week can open your mind to be more creative and focused and allow you to be more present and in-the-moment. I always feel guilty about how much time I spend staring at my iPhone, aimlessly scrolling on FB, IG, and checking and re-checking emails. (If you want to join me in my guilt-fest, here’s a great article that teaches you how to see how much time you spend on social media and how to limit screentime across specific apps: https://www.cnbc.com/guide/how-much-time-youre-spending-on-your-phone/ ). I loved the concept of this book, but it wasn’t until 2021 that I actually began my 24-hour tech break.
What happened in 2021? I watch Season 1, Episode 2 of “The Chosen”.
Shabbat is a Jewish custom. and although I am a Protestant Christian, I deeply resonated with this weekly time of rest and time to honor “family, our people, and God”. “We rest because He rested on the 7th day”. And, if GOD needed rest, then SURELY, I do too! The episode shows such a beautiful time of gathering.
Calm and full of peace
Slow and inviting
The table is carefully set. The meal has been prepared ahead of time (hello, crockpots!). Candles are placed on the table creating that beautiful, warm glow that you can’t get from artificial lighting. Conversations are shared, and laughter comes easily. Prayers are recited:
“Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine. You have lovingly and willingly given us your Shabbat as an inheritance in memory of creation…”
Stories are told to remind adults and to teach the next generation where they came from. Guests feel “honored”. No one is looking at their phones. No one is distracted by the football game on the oversized tv screen in the room.
It is not easy to stay unplugged for 24 hours!
In fact, I get “Phantom Limb Syndrome” reaching for a part of my body (my iPhone) that is temporarily removed! It is such an automatic response to pick up my phone during commercials, when I’m waiting on something or for someone. I have created such a bad habit of using that little device to fill in every free minute I have! I recently heard someone ask this question…
“What could you do with all of the time you spent on social media this week?”
This is why I do a 24-hour tech break. For me, it’s not only personal, it’s necessary. I’ve now been doing a 24-hour Shabbat for almost 18 months. I plug my phone in to charge, and I tuck it into a drawer, so it’s out of sight for 24 hours. I read, I walk, I prepare dinner for our Friday evening guests. I look to see what time the sun sets and schedule a sunset experience (but it’s so hard not to have my phone with me to capture a snapshot of the beautiful ones!). Everyone knows I’m not available during those 24 hours. On Saturday evenings, I return to my phone with messages like, “I know you’re on your Shabbat and you won’t get this message until Saturday night…”. Occasionally, I will have to use my phone or, I slip up and take a peek, but it’s funny, because when I do, I feel like I cheat myself out of the fully therapeutic experience. Once I break my tech fast, I eventually retrieve my phone and check in on all the things, and guess what? Nothing has changed. I didn’t miss any earth-shattering news. The world did not stop or even notice that Susan was not on social media. But I noticed. After my 24 hour tech break, I return to the world feeling at peace, refreshed, and ready for whatever comes next. And I’m already looking forward to and counting down the days until my next #24hrtechbreak.