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A Report From My Technology Shabbat

OK, I have to keep this really, really short because I’m on a Technology Shabbat right now. Our family decided that we were getting too addicted to our digital devices and our non-digital lives were passing us by. So for one day, from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday, we’re going full luddite and abandoning our tech-addicted aways.

Although I was dubious, I have to admit that it’s been totally great so far — We’re only about 55 minutes in — but I felt so cleansed, I wanted to get a post up on the topic.

Heres a perfect example of our new, offline family. On most Friday nights when I’m still coming off the work week, I tend to be distracted, avoid eye contact, stare alternately at my phone and laptop, and become violently irritated the second either of my kids tries to get my attention. Tonight’s been totally different. My seven year-old daughter wanted me to read to her. Instead of screaming something like, “Read it your goddamn self, Daddy’s going viral,” I took a deep breath and then pretended I desperately had to the use the bathroom, ran in, slammed the door and started making grunting and groaning noises while I sent off a few mission critical emails.

It worked like a charm. My daughter didn’t feel neglected or get the notion that I’d chosen technology over her. Later, I used the same trick on my son a few times (once when he wanted to show me his science project and later when he said something about having just lost a tooth). After I’d run into the bathroom eight or nine times, my kids got pretty curious. So I decided to tell them that Daddy had something called explosive bowels.

They didn’t know exactly what that meant. Usually, when the kids want to learn about something new, I have them look it up on their iPhones. But this is our Technology Shabbat, so I wanted them to come up with a less technological way to find the answer. So I had them use a Windows Phone. (The extra time it took them to figure out the user interface afforded me the chance to make a couple quick fantasy football draft picks, and make sure I didn’t have any outstanding issues to discuss with Slackbot.)

I’ve been making adjustments like these all night, and truth be told, it’s not all that hard once you make the heatfelt decision to go off grid. For example, I made sure my Tweets were a little less entertaining than usual — I once even elaborated on someone else’s joke — in an effort to keep Retweets to a minimum. While trying to save time playing Words with Friends, I purposely wasted a Z on the word Zoo when I knew full well I was only a couple turns away from planting a cool Zanthoxylum on my opponent’s ass (I’ll get you next time, Mom). On Facebook, where I usually Like and comment on just about everything, I’ve been making the choice to either Like or comment. (Sorry to my Friends; I’ll make it up at sundown tomorrow).

And right now, since I don’t want my kids to think I’d put getting a few Internet pageviews on this post ahead of our much needed “we time,” I made the reasoned decision to write this in my car — a few blocks away from our house. And they don’t suspect a thing because I told them I was going out to get a pack of cigarettes. It’s a bit odd that they believed me considering that there are only two things I almost never do: Smoke, go out.

Anyway, like I said, I’ve got to keep this short. After I post this essay and check its stats a couple hundred times, I’m gonna dock all my gear in my USB wall of chargers, put on my Jawbone sleep monitor, and hit the sack. I want to be fully rested for the last few hours of our new, offline family. It feels so great to be living in the now.

Shabbat Shalom.

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I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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