December 14, 2012 ‐ By Ann Brown
What with all the social media networks we try to keep up with on a daily basis for work and for pleasure, it is no wonder your mind goes into overload. In fact, according to CNN, Americans spend at least eight hours a day staring at a screen. And more than one-third of smartphone users get online before they get out of bed. Some experts say everyone should take a tech vacation from time to time for several reasons — to reconnect with family and friends, to stop missing special moments of real life, to relieve the stress of trying to maintain your various social media accounts and even to do physical activities such as exercising. Toi Barnhardt unplugs on her own regularly —and she’s in the tech industry. “Unplugging is basically me taking control over what I like to call ‘social media saturation.’ Almost every facet of one’s life has some aspect of social media or social networking intertwined in it. It has us constantly checking for the latest deal, or the latest status update every hour almost. It allows us to falsely feel connected to people, places, and things when in fact we aren’t physically,” says Barnhardt, who is the associate publisher of the Women of Color in Technology STEM Conference. “By unplugging, it forces me to connect with people the traditional or dare I now say the old fashioned way! The main reason however that I unplug is when I feel that the constant social media interacting is making me unproductive i.e. work, home, and even (I’ll admit) while driving.”Recently Barnhardt disconnected for an entire month; she typically does this for shorter periods. She took time off from social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but did check her business email and the professional network LinkedIn. “It became a self-challenge because I did not think I’d last the entire month of November,” she admits. And she didn’t feel she missed any business opportunities since she was still reachable via phone and email. The process of unplugging is easy. Temporarily deactivate your Facebook and Twitter accounts. “Turn off email notifications, remove the Facebook app from your phone, take the website out of your bookmarks and generally cleanse your online existence of all unwanted reminders of Facebook,” reports The Los Angeles Times. You can deactivate your Facebook account, and Facebook will save all of your wall posts, photos, messages and other personal information. If you want to keep a copy of your information, there is a download option under account settings. Unlike Facebook when you deactivate your Twitter account, it is permanent, writes the Times. You have 30 days to change your mind. Turning off email notifications is temporary. Barnhart isn’t alone in her quest to disconnect from her virtual life. There’s even a National Day of Unplugging that encourages people to not go online for 24 hours. The day was launched three years ago by a Jewish organization called Reboot, inspired by Judaism’s Sabbath tradition for which people unplug for 24 hours starting each Saturday. It takes place next year from sundown Friday, March 1, 2013 to sundown, Saturday, March 2, 2013. Observers of the day are supposed to turn off their cell phones and skip the internet for the day. Such a day might be necessary as a survey found that 66 percent of people claim they are addicted to the Internet. The Unplugging Day is supposed to be used to “re-connect with family, friends and oneself, away from technology,” reports Mashable. Could you power down for a day?
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