The Technology Shabbat

Tifffany Shlain and her husband Ken Goldstein are very much a couple who live the life of highly  tech savvy Californians. She is an acclaimed filmmaker who co-founded the famous “Webby Awards” (the Oscars of the blogging world). He is a Professor of Robotics and an acclaimed digital artist who teaches at The University of California, Berkeley.

They have introduced into their lives (and the lives of their two daughters) a fascinating idea. Once a week on a Friday evening as the Sun sets until Saturday evening as the Sun sets (the traditional times set out in the Old Testament as the Jewish Shabbat), they switch of all electronic communication devices, laptops,tablets, cell phones and live without them for the day.

In the video above Tiffany explains the way that this action has allowed her family to catch up with each other, to talk, play and plan. She feels that we are bombarded every day with masses of information and that we need some sort of break in the routine.As non-religious Jews they felt that it made sense to use the Shabbat, the day of rest, as the obvious place to take their break from the invasion of information that was the basis of their life for the other six days of the week.

I was very taken with this idea and felt that it was something that many of us could consider trying. I am not proposing that we all follow the Shlain’s and use the Jewish Shabbat as the day. Any 24 hour period would be useful. It would surprise us how much time we have for rediscovering the joy of interacting with each other as well as the joy of small talk and catching up with personal news.

The Shlain’s look forward to the time that the Shabbat ends and they can get back to joining in the chaotic noise that constitutes our daily digital lives. The advantage though is that they feel rested from the assault to their senses and more able to play their full part in contributing to what Tiffany calls our global interdependence.


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