Internet pioneer and renowned filmmaker Tiffany Shlain takes us on a provocative and entertaining journey through time and technology, introducing a strategy for living in our 24/7 world: turning off all screens for twenty-four hours each week. This practice, which she’s done for nearly a decade with her husband and kids (sixteen and ten), has completely changed their lives, giving them more time, productivity, connection, and presence. She and her family call it “Technology Shabbat.”
Drawn from the ancient ritual of Shabbat, living 24/6 can work for anyone from any background. With humor and wisdom, Shlain shares her story, offers lessons she has learned, and provides a blueprint for how to do it yourself. Along the way, she delves into the neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and history of a weekly day of rest across cultures, making the case for why we need to bring this ritual back.
As we move further into October, my desire to spend all day Saturday and Sunday in bed reading increases. It’s really getting bad. But (alas) most of that reading is for school, and while its very interesting, there’s also something to be said about reading spooky Halloween books. Oh well, I guess public health readings are my books for now. Before I got completely swept up by school readings though, I had the opportunity to read 24/6 by Tiffany Shlain (courtesy of Simon & Schuster). And this book got me thinking.
As a student, a lot of my life revolves around my computer and technology. I would be lost without it – all of my writing, school work, and communication are accomplished through my laptop. But 24/6 got me wondering – would it be possible to take just one day a week to go tech free? Print off my readings, not respond to emails, and just generally be a little bit unreachable?
I think Shlain makes a lot of good points in her book. We as a society are much more tied to our phones now than when we were younger. I remember that my first phone was a flip phone which had super cool stripes on the front that would light up with different colours when I got a call or a text. I dont think I got a smartphone until around highschool. But now, 9 year olds have fancier phones than I do. They bring their iPads and iPhones everywhere, and are pretty constantly on them. Do I think that technology is bad? No, I love it, it lets me keep in contact with friends who live around the world. But do I think that we need to assess how much we use our phones? For sure.
Her connecting her tech-free day to the Shabbat was also really interesting. I’m not Jewish, and know relatively little about Jewish religious practices and culture, but it was really cool to learn a little bit about the history of the Shabbat and also how it can be adapted to modern day use. She readily admits that it might be hard for some people to adhere 100% to being tech-free, but she also talks about bending and breaking rules and how this was basically how stuff got done on the Shabbat. This adaptability is I think a great aspect of the tech Shabbat, and makes it really accessible to a lot of people.
Shlain articulates a lot of her points with moving family stories about her children, her parents, and her grandmother. And a lot of them really hit home. While I love snapchatting with my brother and best friend, nothing really compares to calling and actually speaking to them. Shlain preaches about connecting broadly but also connecting deeply, and I think that that is something that we’re close to forgetting in our world.
Reading this book really made me think about my consumption of technology and how much I use it, and while I may not be ready to commit to a full day of no technology, it’s definitely something that I will try to incorporate into my life. Like maybe I’ll use Instagram and Snapchat less, and read more. And while at some times the book felt repetitive or dragged, I think Shlain brought up a lot of good points. Overall, I’d give this book a 3.5/5 and I look forward to trying to implement some of her ideas on my weekends!
See you soon ducks!