I’m about to hop on a plane and fly from Beirut back home in a few hours. That’s precisely when the National Day of Unplugging (NDU) starts. The purpose is to encourage young, hyper-connected, and frequently frantic people of all backgrounds to re-embrace the ancient beauty of a day of solitude and unplug their smart phones. It runs for the 25 hours from sundown Friday, March 4, to sundown, Saturday, March 5.
According to the press release, the first NDU last March reached tens of millions of people internationally. And it resonated with people of all backgrounds, from Catholic to Buddhist and Muslim. Since then, unplugging has become the movement of the moment, with everyone from the New York Times to Arianna Huffington focusing attention on our overly plugged-in society.
AOL’s 2010 study on email usage found that 47 percent of respondents are hooked on email, 59 percent check email in the bathroom and 60 percent check email on vacation. Kids are afflicted too. In a recent survey by security software maker AVG of children between the ages of two and five from the United States and countries around the world, 19 percent of parents reported that their kids could access a Smartphone application but only 9 percent said their kids could tie their shoes. And a 2010 Nielsen study found that teenagers are sending or receiving an average of 3,339 texts a month.