Sunday, March 02, 2008

646. Unplugged

I had a nice, unplugged weekend that began with a concert by an a cappella group that figured prominently in a past life. I was a little worried about stepping back in time, but as soon as they began to sing all the muscles in my shoulders unclenched, and a weeks' worth of tension drifted up and out of the old stone church like mist. In New York there's often a fine line between amateur and professional musicians, and my goal was always to confound the experts and sound just like the real thing. But I remembered last night why I love listening to avocational groups--I want to hear a little insecurity, a few flubbed notes. I like being reminded that we're all human. Sometimes the professionals are just too good, and the soul of the sound seems to disappear.

And this morning, as I sat here wishing I could convene a marathon William Billings sing-in and remain offline for the rest of the week, I read yet another article about the (new! radical!) "secular Sabbath":

I Need a Virtual Break. No, Really.

I applaud the author for working 70 hours a week instead of 80. Maybe one day he'll reach a mere 60. We all need to to be amateurs every once in awhile, drift off key, even forget the notes.


Regina said...

I had no idea who William Billings was so thanks for that!
And as for the music these days, give me a piano and a singer, or a guitar and a singer, and I am happy. Have you heard of Rosie Thomas- she's wonderful as are so many others like her...
I'll have to e-mail you about my weekend!

alto artist said...

I love Billings (I'm an Early American music geek...). I've never heard of Rosie Thomas but just Googled her--beautiful music, thank you!


Leif Hansen said...

Hi, thanks for the post.
I've been personally using 'low-tech sabbath' for a few years now...sometimes keeping it, sometimes not. Mainly, we try and not use 'screen-based' tech as they seem to be the ones that steal attention and relationality.

My name is Leif Hansen (I'm the managing director of Spark Northwest) and I'm one of the two facilitators for the Soul Tech workshop that was recently shown last week on the Today Show.

One of our participants, Ariel Meadows started her 52NightsUnplugged experiment as a result of our workshop, which in turn was mentioned in the NY Times article you've sited in your post (Ariel was also on the Today Show for the live portion.)

While I do think there are some practical things one can do (i.e. bracket one's tech time with breaks, set some family boundaries, set a power-timer on your wifi, etc) our workshops are really more about facilitating a process that helps people to think about how technology is helping or hindering the achievement of broader life/work goals.

Actually, we've just put together a 7 step e-workbook that takes people through the same process. The steps and exercises covered in the e-workbook are basically to:
(perhaps first identify what you like about your tech life)
1. Identifying your challenges with tech
2. Identify the needs trying to get met
3. Develop your vision/goals
4. Finding your focus
5. Finding solutions
6. Turning ideas into actions
7. Sticking with your plan (can be hardest)

I think if people would really take the time to think about what they want from life, and how technology is helping and hindering their moving in that direction, it would be a tremendous first step.

Unfortunately, most of us would rather just turn off our minds, and click on some entertainment. Neil Postman called it "Amusing Ourselves to Death".

Good luck and keep us posted on your process!

alto artist said...

Interesting... As you might have guessed by the subject matter of this blog, I attempt to observe the old-fashioned, non-secular version of "52 nights unplugged". From my point of view, this visionary idea was implemented quite successfully a few thousand years ago. I'm glad to learn that so many people are enthusiastic about the advice of ancient rabbis!