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598: Unplug

How do you unplug?


Full episode script

For the last several years, in the first part of March, the National Day of Unplugging comes around, and you’re likely to find a few thousand articles and discussions of how important it is to put your digital devices in a bag that blocks all signals, and quote “reconnect with the real world around you.”

 

There’s plenty of people claiming plenty of benefits of removing yourself from technology for some length of time. One chunk of research asked students to not use their phones or interact with media at all for a day by the The International Center for Media & the Public Agenda. Those students reported that they were able to focus more, studied more, read more books, studied more, and basically used the quote-unquote extra time to do things that they enjoyed.

 

A 2011 study from the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology in 2011 also argued that disconnecting from communication devices and work in general while at home — in the words of the study, segmentation – improved emotional and psychological health of employees.

 

There’s also plenty of claims that unplugging — from technology or from your everyday life — can be the magic pill that improves just about anything that ails you.

 

Yet, as Casey N. Cep points out in an article in The New Yorker, quote:

And yet the “real” world, like the “real” America, is an insidious idea. It suggests that the selves we are online aren’t authentic, and that the relationships that we forge in digital spaces aren’t meaningful. This is odd, because some of our closest friends and most significant professional connections are people we’ve only ever met on the Internet, and a third of recently married couples met online. It’s odder still because we not only love and socialize online but live and work there, too. Is it any less real when we fall in love and break up over Gchat than when we get fired over e-mail and then find a new job on LinkedIn?

 

Pope Benedict XVI, after he started tweeting, delivered a message on social networks. “The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friends, and connections facilitate communion,” the Pope said. He added that, with effort, “it is not only ideas and information that are shared but, ultimately, our very selves.”

 

The power of quote-unquote unplugging may come more in the chance to reset and gain new appreciation for the choices we do make — much like travel gives us a chance to see the home we have with new eyes.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.