June 27, 2017
7 Tech-Free Things to Do
I’m so addicted to my dumb phone. It’s just the worst. I check my email in the middle of the night when I pee; I peek at my Instagram pathetically while at the playground with my kids; I text my friends screenshots of Orlando Bloom’s penis and my ex’s Facebook feed and recipes I want to make and inspo pics from my cool outfits board on Pinterest all day long. What’s wrong with me? Sometimes I wonder if it’s an epidemic, if the whole of the past roughly 6,000 years civilization has just been a sick joke, that all of our ancestors’ intrepid pioneering and sacrifice was all just a prelude to this one sad fact: That at the end of the day, all any of us want to do is sit on a chair in a dark room alone, the light from our phone on our face, watching memes of cats and braiding tutorials on YouTube. God, so depressing.
Thank goodness for Reboot, a cultural nonprofit dedicated to affirming the value of Jewish traditions and creating new ways for people to make them their own. The National Day of Unplugging—which takes place once a year in a 24-hour period running from Sabbath sundown on a Friday to sundown the next day—is 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. In other words: A 24-hour digital detox, people!
Here, seven simple ways get grounded and grateful without your device:
The idea of cooking a meal for my family without the option of scrolling through a million food blogs is daunting, but I know I can do it. Guess I’d have to get all 1970s and pull down some dusty cook books from the cabinets. Maybe some Jamie Oliver spaghetti with an Alice Waters salad and a Julia Child cake? Crazy to think about keeping an eye on the clock while the food is in the oven, instead of setting a timer on my iPhone.
Get in Bed
There are a million things to do in bed that don’t involve looking at your phone. Off the top of my head: 1) Light a candle and take a good long nap. 2) If you have a partner, fluff up the sheets and make some good old fashioned nookie. 3) If you don’t, climb under the covers anyway, along with all your dreams and fantasies and sex toys. You’re welcome.
You know all those novels on your nightstand you keep vowing to dig into, but instead keep pressing “play next episode” on Netflix during a high maintenance binge-watching sesh? Now’s your time to get all bookworm-ish without feeling like you’re missing out on The OA. Dig into a good old Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Mary Gaitskill, Stephen King. The new Zadie Smith is spectacular. Whatever floats your boat, really. Pull out your black bifocals and flip on your reading lamp. The sky’s the limit here.
Yep. At least two miles. Put on your dorkiest sneakers and fleece, take a deep breath and hit the pavement hard. Go at whatever speed you want and let your mind wander.
I do this every night anyway—but with an app! Vowing instead to take a tip from Transcendental Meditation and sit my ass on the floor for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night in silence. Will be interesting to see if I can actually find some tech-free inner peace.
Remember the good old days, when you would hang out with your loved ones over a couple cups of coffee on the table instead of a tangle of chargers and cords and bleeping text threads blowing up between you? Let’s get back to our ’90s grunge roots when the only thing to do was pontificate at the local cafe over Kurt versus Eddie, Hole versus PJ, and isn’t that new actor Ethan Hawke so hot? This time, though, talk politics and feminism and write a letter to your senator together. Sometimes it's good to get together and just be.
Cook at a soup kitchen in your neighborhood. Head down to the park with a garbage bag and fill it up with trash. Drop off flowers at a nursing home then hang with the residents and read and paint their nails. Options are endless. Get out of your head and into the world. It makes a difference.