Could you turn off your phone, tablet or and other devices for an entire weekend, and instead, engage in outdoor activities, games, and other pursuits with friends and family? One Portsmouth resident is hoping you will try. Portsmouth resident and parent, Jeff Stern, initiated a 48-hour Digital Fast at Bentley University in 2014, and has since coordinated smaller Digital Fasts in the Seacoast.
During the weekend of May 3-5, members of the Seacoast community will embark on a 48-hour Digital Fast. That means no phones, no tablets, no computers, no Internet, no video games, no TV for an entire weekend.
Stern explains how it works. “On Friday, May 3 at 5:30pm, we will gather at the Portsmouth Public Library. Councilor Nancy Pearson will read a proclamation officially declaring May 3-5, 2019 the Seacoast Digital Fast. We will take all of our devices, turn them off, put them in a drawer and walk away.” Stern envisions that people will spend a weekend free from the alerts and pings of the 24-hour news/entertainment/social media cycle. “Make people wonder what you’ve been up to. Enjoy quietly reflecting on something instead of instantly sharing your opinions with the world. Get your kids outside. Get yourself outside. Make eye contact with each other. Do one thing at a time. Give your eyes and thumbs a rest. Look up instead of down.”
“Then, at 5:30pm on Sunday, May 5, go back to our drawer and resume your relationship with the digital world. Or, who knows? Maybe you’ll decided you’re in no rush to get back to it.”
This is a joint effort among members of the Portsmouth school system, the Portsmouth Public Library, the City of Portsmouth, business owners, and local artists and musicians. Even the Portsmouth Police Department is on board, ready to hand out “tickets” to individuals spotted on their devices during the 48 hours. These tickets are tongue in cheek, of course, but also a terrific conversation starter between officers and the public.
Stern explains, “We are planning a weekend chock full of fun events, games, challenges and gatherings for both kids and adults, such as record listening parties, scavenger hunts, acoustic karaoke, reading and writing challenges, screen-free brunches, Quidditch, even Jedi mind training. We hope this will be a unique opportunity for families to connect with one another, and for members of our community to experience our town and each other from a different perspective.”
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