Magazine: How We Unplugged

Hot off the newsstands this week is the latest issue of Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly “Family First” section, with a feature story describing the experiences of some of those who chose to Unplug & Reconnect on Sunday, Oct. 2, the “Day to Disconnect.”

The publication, which reaches more than 250,000 readers, reports that tens of thousands of hours were devoted to unplugging from technology on this one day, with participants spending that time reconnecting with the people and events that are meaningful to them. The initiative was conceived by Ohr Naava, a Brooklyn-based women’s organization, and sponsored by Ohr Naava and Unplug and Reconnect.

“From the start, there was a natural synergy between Unplug and Reconnect and . . . Day to Disconnect,” says Dr. Joseph Geliebter, founder of Unplug and Reconnect. “Unplug and Reconnect brought a greater emphasis on ‘reconnecting’ to the disconnect mission.”

While event organizers anticipated that businesspeople and teens would be the among the most “wired,” of event participants, they were surprised to learn that oftentimes it was young mothers who confessed to being the most plugged in, according to Mishpacha. “Many of them found cutting the tie to their cell phones surprisingly more liberating than constraining,” Mishpacha reported. One mother told the magazine, “I never thought of myself as too obsessed with technology, but evidently I’ve been stuck pretty deep. I was so excited to spend three hours with myself and my family and found myself happier those few hours and definitely more patient with those around me.”

Overwhelmingly, people pledged hours away from technology in pursuit of family activities – whether it was spending time with a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents. Poignantly, one father reported, “I played with my two-and-a-half-year-old son and for the first time ever, I gave him my full attention!”

Addicted to Technology

Many participants in Day to Disconnect recognized that they might be addicted to technology. One young man told Mishpacha that after disconnecting for four hours, he realized that his cell phone had become like “a drug, an addiction, one I can’t stop. Whenever I’m interacting with other people and my pocket vibrates, even if I don’t look into my pocket, I’m far more curious what e-mail, text, or [BlackBerry message] I just received than what the person I’m talking to is saying.”

Indeed, we’re so enamored of our cell phones that many of us even sleep with these devices under our pillows, the magazine noted. One young woman opted to disconnect from her cell phone at midnight, moving her cell phone far from her bedroom. “. . . When I woke up . . . I felt refreshed and invigorated, since I actually slept a full eight hours. No disturbing texts stealing my REM sleep, no vibrating phone beneath my pillow, just a deep revitalizing sleep,” she reported.

Still disconnected later that day, this same young woman discovered what organizers of Day to Disconnect had hoped participants would realize: “I found it’s possible to communicate without my communication devices,” she said.





Yes, Let’s Do Lunch


Are you guilty? Are you one of the growing number of employees who lunch at their desks or go without if you’ve forgotten to brown-bag it?


According to a recent study by Aviva Health, Health of the Workplace, you’re not alone. Thirty percent of employees surveyed said they were likely to skip a regular lunch break. Aviva found that almost 15 percent of employees skipped meals entirely because of stressful workloads, while 25 percent said their decision to take lunch or not depended on whether they had the time.


Many  of us would have fallen in with the 30th percentile, those who skipped lunch in order to complete their work. If you’re like these workers, you rarely take yourself away from your desk for a leisurely meal break. You probably feel virtuous about it, too, since skipping lunch seems to have become part of the new American work ethic. But skipping lunch isn’t good for you– and it isn’t good for your employer either.

From a health perspective, it’s important to refuel with a nutritious lunch, especially in the midst of a stressful day. When we’re stressed, we get an adrenaline rush that may mask our hunger pangs, but our body still craves food. Without midday nourishment, our body experiences dropping glucose levels. Glucose is something our cells (including those all-important gray cells) need in order to function properly. Eventually, skipping lunch will slow one’s metabolism, which may explain why we find ourselves stifling yawns at three in the afternoon.

But more importantly, taking a lunch break forces us to Unplug and Reconnect. The very act of getting up and walking away from our computers helps us recharge our batteries. Sometimes, when we give ourselves a brief respite, we find that our problem-solving skills grow stronger, that our creative juices start to flow again. A workload that seemed insurmountable before lunch seems more manageable once we’ve walked away from it for a while.

If you’re an employer who hopes for an energized workforce, encourage your employees to take lunch. If you’re an employee who’s tempted to skip lunch, step back and repeat: Let’s do lunch.


Cute ‘iPad Baby’ Provokes Thoughts about Reading

In a video making the rounds on YouTube, a toddler is seen trying – and failing – to manipulate the pages of a magazine as if it were an iPad instead of a stack of printed pages. Frustrated in her attempts to make images move, she pushes the magazine away.

Adorable, right?

Well, maybe not. How valuable can it be for a baby to learn that mom’s iPad, with its flashy moving images, is way cooler than the printed page? If children learn to read by being read to by their parents and by mimicking parental behavior – which they do – what is this child learning?

Reading experts say even the youngest of babies benefit when their parents or other adults read to them aloud from a book. By being read to, a baby learns about communication and about important concepts such as numbers and letters, and colors and shapes. Reading also builds critical listening, memory, and vocabulary skills. Indeed, the very act of participating in reading at an early age is what creates lifelong readers. When parent and baby share a book, the baby is usually encouraged to join in the activity by turning pages and following text from left to right. This is behavior that will serve them well when they begin to read on their own.

So yes, it’s cute to see the iPad baby grapple with the pages of a magazine. But it would be really neat if the next frame of the YouTube video showed a parent picking up the magazine the child has pushed away to show her how cool words and pictures can be – even when they only move in our imaginations.



The second-place winner in Unplug & Reconnect’s essay contest, Lori Quiller of Alabama, writes about discovering sights and sounds around her after she unplugs from technology in this essay titled “Unplugged.”


By Lori Quiller


I’m definitely an iPod girl. It’s like my wallet, cell phone, checkbook and credit card – I never leave home without it.

Music is soothing, or it can rev you up during the lull of the day. It can push out the minutia of not-so-white noise that can so quickly envelope and drown you when you are least expecting it. But, it can also be the blanket covering up some of the most beautiful sounds of our world that we have learned to tune out.

Where I work requires me to walk three blocks from a parking deck, down a hill, crossing busy intersections, and navigating vehicles filled with hurried drivers. But, there’s so much more.

When my iPod’s hard drive and battery died, I quickly ordered a new one thinking I just couldn’t survive without this little device I’d grown so accustomed to for the last seven years. (No, it wasn’t old. The tech at The Apple Store smiled graciously when he carefully chose the words, “well loved,” when he described my poor, ailing little iPod that was about to be retired.)

There were several days in which I walked those three blocks each morning and afternoon bare-eared! Gasp! Not knowing how long I was going to survive without my tunes, I constantly tracked the shipping logs to find out how long before the replacement would be at my doorstep.

Then, I began to notice things I hadn’t before. First was walking past the construction site outside my parking deck. There was a chorus of mechanical tunes inside the structure. Metal on metal. Welding. Ringing. A loud pinging from deep inside. I slowed my pace. That’s when I noticed the loose manhole cover in front of the bank. I stepped on it, and it cracked like a cymbal.

I was quickly reminded of an episode of Sex and the City when Carrie dated a jazz musician who tried to get her to listen to the sounds of the street as they walked. That episode was playing out in my head, and I was in the middle of it!

The vehicles whirring past me, trying to make the next light, then squealing to a halt at the last second. Children at the daycare laughing and giggling while playing outside on the jungle gyms and in the sandlots. Birds calling to each other as they flew over my head playing their own version of “Tag! You’re it!” The sound of the light breeze tangling in the trees followed me down to the building where I worked. Finally, the thump, whirr, thump, whirr, thump, whirr of the rotating glass door entrance of the building.

It took just more than a week for my new iPod to make it to my home, but I have a confession. While I still take it wherever I go, there are days in which the sounds of the city are just are as beautiful as anything I have loaded into my tunes. It’s a different way of plugging in.


Dr. Joseph Geliebter Discusses the Need to Unplug from Social Media at Inc 500

Dr. Joseph Geliebter, founder of Unplug & Reconnect and CEO of SignTalk® LLC, discusses the need to unplug from social media during the Inc. 500 awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., in September. SignTalk, a leading provider of sign language interpreters to diverse industries, was named to the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing privately owned companies