If you’re reading this after sunset, you’ve failed a challenge


A group designed to bring cultural creatives together has deigned today to be the start of National Day of Unplugging. The group wants people to pledge that from sundown tonight until sundown tomorrow, you’ll give up electronic gadgetry.

The ethos of the event is clearly stated:

Do you have multiple cell phones? Take your ipad to the beach on vacation? Ever find it hard to get through a conversation without posting an update to Facebook? Is your computer always on? We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create.

However, the group isn’t clear about exactly what you have to do. Its website allows you to “sign the Unplug pledge” but this simply involves signing up to a mailing list and doesn’t actually have any specific wording for your pledge. Although some participants are listed and photographed, there’s no details on how many people have signed up to the pledge.

If you’re wondering why the pledge covers sundown to sundown rather than a calendar day, it’s most likely because the project is an offshoot of Reboot, a network for cultural creative groups with a heavy emphasis on the Jewish faith. It’s working on a wider campaign for people of all faiths to live a simpler and more relaxed lifestyle for one day each week.

In the meantime, it seems that anyone who wants to follow the Unplug project will need to set their own ground rules. Despite the logo, the idea presumably isn’t to cut all electricity use, but rather to cut back on digital communication and/or entertainment.

Caleb Garling of SFGate has an interesting take on the idea. He says that although the principle of cutting down an addiction to technology is a good one, having an annual day is ineffective, ” like having National Go For A Jog Day to get everyone back into shape.” He argues that a more productive change would be not ” to tune out for 24 hours once a year, but [instead] to tune out for 24 minutes once a day, or 24 times for one minute every day.”

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