The benefits of a social media sabbatical

Neil Baum

As students, we spend an inordinate amount of time on computers and watching screens on iPads and cell phones. I am guilty of waking up every day looking at emails and also checking my computer inbox before retiring at night. I have become, as most of my fellow students, aware that I am tethered to the Internet and iPhone 24/7 and even when I’m on vacation or between semesters. It became apparent to me that I, like probably most of you, have become a slave to social media, email, texting and apps.

Let me offer a solution to this enslavement: it’s called getting unplugged and having an “electronic Sabbatical” when you are totally unplugged from the internet, mobile phone, computer, iPad and other electronic devices for just one day a week.

First, let’s look at the benefits of becoming unplugged. After an unplugged day where you are free from the digital world you will notice dramatic changes within yourself. You will think different, you will act different and see things from a new perspective.

Time will slow down. You will have more attention to devote to the priorities of your life, and you’ll be more receptive to new ideas, new concepts and even new friends that are coming your way. Becoming unplugged will make you feel like time is in abundance. You’ll create room for ideas and insights. You’ll gain real inspiration from life and circumstances that are different from online inspiration. You may find this is the best time for stimulating your creative juices.

There are many additional benefits you will find out for yourself, and the positive affects are felt long after the unplugged day is over.

To prepare for an unplugged day, think of a solution to move internet or computer tasks or projects to a different day. Answer your most important emails before the unplugged day starts.

Setup an automatic email responder that you will not be answer emails until Monday if your unplugged day is Saturday or Sunday.

If you have a blog, send out blog posts on Thursday or Fridays so you can connect with your readers over the weekend if that’s the time you dedicate to being unplugged.

If you have a Facebook account, don’t respond on your unplugged day. I promise you that your friends will still like you on Monday. Don’t post on Instagram or Snapchat. Your photo can wait to go viral a day later.

As Thomas Friedman said in his book “Thanks for Being Late,” the world is always in a state of acceleration. He advocated taking a regularly scheduled pause and reflecting instead of being in a state of acceleration. As a result, it is a way to increase the odds that you’ll be understood, a better way to engage the world around you, and yes, even become a better student or faculty member.

Remember what the good book says, “Thou shalt work hard for six days a week and rest on the seventh day.” I think in 2019 and beyond that means getting unplugged for just one day a week!