I spend my working days at a computer and sometimes whole evenings too. And bits of the weekend. For the most part I enjoy it, and have enjoyed it as a hobby for the last couple of decades. The Internet can be endlessly distracting and enjoyable.
But ergonomically and mentally, it’s also good for me to take a physical break from my devices now and then.
For that reason, I like the idea of the digital sabbath. It’s an idea that’s floated around probably for as long as the Blackberry and iPhone have been with us. 
For a time last year I used a free iOS app, Friday, to nudge me into adopting the digital sabbath. About a half hour before Friday sundown, the app displayed a thoughtful message, quote, or anecdote, and then the screen went dark. That was the cue to set the device down – at the time, my iPod – and not pick it up again till sundown on Saturday.
I made my own rules for a digital sabbath. I allowed myself to check my emails for anything urgent that required attention, but set the device down quickly after that.
I tried to avoid adopting the “Blackberry prayer” posture but didn’t (and still don’t) always succeed.
I found that not using a computer from Friday evening to Saturday evening was quite doable. I spent Friday evening reading a physical book or magazine while Saturday was usually a day full of chores anyway. I allowed reading on a Kindle since it’s an ebook and I cannot go online with it.
Of course, there’d be backed-up emails to wade through on Saturday night (or Sunday morning, if I enjoyed the time away). But that also made me think: how much time do I want to spend processing emails? Time away from the computers made me consider how I wanted to spend my time at them.
A friend tried the digital sabbath, but the furious pace of his and his family’s life militated against a no-email-for–24-hours policy.
I did not download Friday to my new iPhone when I got it. Too many things to learn! But I downloaded it again after I started drafting this post. I want to give the digital sabbath another try.
- As with any good idea, there are always detractors. For me, the digital sabbath is not about me blaming technology for being addicting. When I fast, it’s not because I blame food for being delicious. It’s about developing a healthier relationship with all things in my life – including myself. ↩