What if our technology isn't the problem? A look at "Digital Sabbaths" and the dangers of holding our gadgets responsible.
The idea of a tech-specific Sabbath has been floating around for about a decade. It is presented as an antidote to our "busyness" -- a busyness which exhausts us and inhibits deeper connections with the people and places around us. If we set aside our gadgets, the thinking goes, for a day or a weekend, we can give ourselves a break from this busyness and find the time to really connect.
It seems paradoxical that abstaining from technology, which at some very basic level is all about connection, should help us connect better. As Jason Farman wrote in The Atlantic last week, cell phones and a variety of apps can actually foster deeper connections with the people and places around us, whether through basic phone conversations or the ability to know more about out surroundings.
But some people are clearly troubled by their relationships with technology. Why are these modern-day Sabbatarians rhapsodic about the benefits that a day away from technology can deliver?
Perhaps it's not so much the lack of technology as the creation of some dedicated time for connecting. And the creation of special time -- holy time -- is what the Sabbath fundamentally is. With a ritual at the beginning and one at the end, and all manner of work proscribed in between, the Sabbath carves out an unfragmented period of time; Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the great Jewish scholars of the 20th century called the Sabbath a "palace in time." Everyone observing the Sabbath is in the same metaphorical place, primed for human connection.