Unplug, Shutdown and Reboot

Studio shot of hand closing laptop. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.

My day starts at 4:45 a.m. every weekday morning when I hear my son’s alarm go off in his room, only to be followed at 5:00 a.m. with my alarm and at least three more alarms going off in my house by 6:30 a.m. At some point, I send text messages, listen to voicemails and check e-mails before I actually get everyone dropped off and on my way to work. Between the drop-offs and arriving at work, I make phone calls. At work, I am driven by bings, rings and beeps all day long. Ding—you have an email. Ring—you have a phone call. Bing—time for a meeting. I am connected to technology throughout the day, even when I get home.

Most of our lives are overrun with stimuli. We can get movies instantly, computer games at our fingertips, and have conversations with people we’ve never met or spoken to. Even when I have “downtime,” I will play scrabble on a tablet. Remember in the movie theater when they use to remind everyone “Silence is Golden?” How often do we unplug and enjoy a little peace and quiet? That means no TV, computer, e-mail, phone, games and so on. Without giving away too much on my age—I can tell you as a child we had no cell phones, cable TV, game systems or computers at home. Answering machines did not exist. And yet, we survived!

While I love technology, it is good for us to unplug every once in awhile¬—an evening where computers, phones, TV and game systems are turned off and put away.

Technology has made it easy for us to live sedentary lives. It makes it easier for us to sit in our office chair rather than getting up and walking over to have a conversation with a co-worker. Before technology, we had to move around to communicate. Now, we can watch TV while “Facebooking” on our laptop. It is estimated technology is putting us at a disadvantage healthwise. Obesity in the U.S. is increasing every year, much of it attributed to our daily lack of physical activity. The simple act of strolling to a neighbor’s house to speak with them has become a rarity.


I would challenge everyone to consider unplugging, shutting down and rebooting. Downtime is essential for our brain—and I am not just talking about sleeping. We need “awake” downtime too! Essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times, “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”