by Shirley Drew
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” ~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Last week I was talking to my colleague Leo who teaches a course in Mass Media. He explained that one of the assignments he gives his students is to have them agree to give up all media for 24 hours. “Even our cell phones?” They inevitably ask. “Yes,” he says, “even your cell phones.” Then they are asked to write a description of their experiences of those media-less 24 hours. Some reported being agitated, some bored, some lonely, and some said they actually left their houses or apartments just to talk to people. Sounds like a good thing! When he finished telling this story, I chuckled (smugly, I might add), and said that during the summers I was often off the grid for days at a time. No problem for me. I often spent that time enjoying the company of a great book. Ahh…the luxury of that. Then he looked at me with a knowing smile.
“You don’t get it, do you? I said NO media. Books are media.”
“Yes, but...no BOOKS??? Seriously?”
“Right,” he said. I was struck dumb.
I really couldn't imagine it. After all, besides the obvious pleasures, books are writers' best friends. Still, I think Leo's idea is a good one--if you restrict it to electronic media. (Sorry, Leo). I know it's not easy, but it can be done. The days that I've spent "unplugged" have been both relaxing and stress free.
Since 2010, many people in the U.S. commit to a "National Day of Unplugging." It begins on the first Friday of March and continues for a full 24 hours.
While you might have missed it this past March, I challenge each of you to “unplug” for 24 hours. Spend that time doing something fun. I suggest settling in with a good book.
And if you accept my challenge, let me know how it turns out.