Cruise Line: Use ‘Shellphone’ Instead

We just love the new unplugged advertising campaign launched recently by Royal Carribean, the cruise line that takes travelers to sunny destinations throughout the Carribean.

In the advertisement, a young woman holds a conch shell to her ear. The shell presumably whispers of the sea and makes us want to get away from it all.

Viewers of the ad are encouraged to put down their cell phones and tune into “shellphones.”

A tagline reads: “The Sea is Calling. Answer it Royally.” Other ads referring to the “shellphone” inform readers that: “You don’t recharge it. It recharges you.”

Of course one doesn’t need a luxury cruise to get away from the hectic pace of life symbolized by our cell phones.

The next time you need to get away from it all, simply click the “off” button on your cell phone. You might even consider a cruise to someplace sunny – even if it’s only in your imagination.


Facebook Changes Meaning of Serving ‘Over There’

Once upon a time, the holiday season brought increased volumes of mail to our servicemen and women serving overseas. But these days, mail sent “over there,” has taken on a whole new meaning, thanks to social media sites like Facebook and online video phone services like Skype.

Just how significantly social media networks and fast Internet connections are changing what it means to be deployed to a war zone is something the military is now studying, according to a recent news report by USA Today.

Many servicemen and women claim that online services like Facebook and Skype make serving in remote parts of the world more tolerable because they allow almost daily interactions with family and friends. But the military is also concerned that they may be distractions that could have deadly consequences; hence the study.

“No other military in the history of warfare has had that level of access to their families,” said Benjamin Karney, a social psychologist who studies marriage and family relationships in the military, in an interview with USA Today. Karney is one of three researchers involved in a three-year study for the Department of Defense (DOD), which is tracking how military families handle stress before, during and after deployments.

According to Karney, the DOD wants to find out if online access to family members strengthens family bonds and eases the post-deployment transition to civilian life or whether it might distract servicemen and women from their mission and expose pre-existing problems in their personal lives.

Not surprisingly, Karney suspects the answer might be a little of both.


Show You Care – Deliver a Tech Intervention

Do you know of someone who spends entirely too much time plugged into their Blackberry? Does their idea of true social interaction usually involve spending quantity time on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter?

Would you like to let your plugged in friend know that you’re concerned about them? Well now you can, thanks to the folks who bring you, a social networking portal that facilities in-person group meetings.

Recently, the Meetup team launched a new website,, which allows you to send a friend or loved one a prepackaged “intervention email” and an invitation to view an animated video that cleverly illustrates the perils of tech addiction.

The sponsors say they are responding to an epidemic they call “Screen Addiction,” in which “the electronic screens invade every corner of your life.”

Selecting from a dropdown menu, you can customize your missive — telling your tech-obsessed friends that you “care” or, alternatively, that their habit is “getting annoying” or that you “know what it’s like.” Other customization features let you express fear that your email recipient risks turning into a zombie or may soon forget how to say words out loud. You can even ask your plugged-in friends to think about when they last saw the sun, laughed out loud instead of LOL’d, or did something that didn’t involve a screen.

We think the concept behind is a great idea. If you’re worried that someone you know is a little too wired to technology, why not deliver a tech intervention today?






Twitter and Politics: a Dynamic Duo

Discussions involving politics are usually provocative under the best of circumstances – but they’re especially contentious when they take place on Twitter. That’s the consensus of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which found yet another example of how social media is changing our behavior.

A recent center study looked at 20 million tweets about the race for president posted between May 2 and Nov. 27. It found that people “talk” differently about politics on Twitter than they do elsewhere in the world of blogging (e.g., the so-called blogosphere). What’s more, information posted on both Twitter and the blogosphere differed markedly from the political information that Americans receive from news coverage in general.

Tweets about the presidential candidates tended to be more intensely opinionated, and less neutral, than in both blogs and news, according to the study. Further, it seems that a smaller percentage of tweeted statements about the candidates were simply factual in nature without reflecting positively or negatively on a candidate.

But perhaps the most interesting finding was that the political discussion on Twitter has fluctuated with events more than it has elsewhere in the blogosphere, where authors seem to stick with their views more steadily once they have made up their minds about the candidates. On Twitter, by contrast, conversations about the candidates sometimes changed dramatically from week to week, going from positive to negative or vice versa in the blink of an eye.

We’ve seen how Twitter has played a dramatic role in affecting world events. And while it’s impossible to gauge just how influential Twitter will be in determining the next President of the United States, one thing is for sure – the candidates surely will be paying serious attention to Twitter as they take the pulse of the American voter.

NTSB Recommends Ban on Cell Phones While Driving

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended a full ban on the use of cell phones and text-messaging devices while driving. The NTSB recommendation encompasses all cell phone usage while driving – including the use of Bluetooth wireless devices.

It’s a recommendation that we at Unplug and Reconnect heartily endorse.

There can be little doubt that talking on a cell phone or texting while driving can have deadly consequences.  According to the NTSB, some 3,092 roadway fatalities last year involved distracted drivers, many of whom were distracted by their cell phones.

“Needless lives are lost on our highways, and for what? Convenience? Death isn’t convenient,” said NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman,

The NTSB doesn’t have the power to impose regulations, but its recommendations are heavily considered by lawmakers. Many states already ban cell phones.

The independent federal agency’s recommendation coincided with news that a 19-year-old pickup truck driver who caused a deadly pileup in Missouri last year had sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes preceding the accident involving two school buses. The truck driver and a 15-year-old student were killed in the accident and 38 others were injured.

“Driving was not [the truck driver’s] only priority,” noted the NTSB’s Hersman.

Disturbingly, the use of cell phones while driving is on the rise, and especially alarming is the number of drivers who text while operating a moving vehicle, according to the NTSB. The federal agency found in a study of 6,000 American drivers that about two out of every 10 – and half of drivers between 21 and 24 – say they’ve texted or emailed while driving. What’s worse, most of those surveyed found nothing wrong with the practice.

As these attitudes indicate, it will take more than laws to halt the improper use of cell phones on the road. Public education campaigns and strict enforcement of cell phone laws must accompany a nationwide ban as proposed by the NTSB.

We think the NTSB’s high-profile recommendation and – significantly – its efforts to highlight the dangers of cell phone abuse among motorists and law enforcement officials, are certainly a step in the right direction.