Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44

WORTH READING

A Sabbath From Screens
Review by Jade Wu
It is "bad for us and bad for the culture" because
being plugged in too much takes away from
quality time with family, causes anxiety, harms
child development, and undermines democracy.
Shlain draws upon history, philosophy, psychology, and even neuroscience to support her
premise. We need rest from this, she explains,
and our democratic culture is one where we
need to come together, spend time with one
another, and share ideas.

Courtesy of Gallery Books

Shlain weaves in her Jewish faith as she intro--
duces the importance of having what she calls
a Technology Shabbat (or Sabbath) each week, 24
straight hours without being plugged in. Though
she never clearly defines what being "plugged in"
or "on screens" covers, we gather that she is referring to accessing any technology that connects to
the internet and allows us to communicate with
other people instantly. This includes desktop computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, and other
devices with these capabilities.

H

ow many of us have texted
while driving? How many of us
have had our eyes glued to our
phones at a child's school event?
How many of us have emailed while
sitting on the toilet? In her new
book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging
One Day a Week, tech pioneer and
Emmy-nominated filmmaker Tiffany
Shlain tells us the average American
checks his or her cell phone 80
times a day and spends a good 74
hours a week staring at screens. She
argues persuasively that this is bad.
44 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

MARCH/APRIL 2020

As the Webby Awards creator and as former
writer for Web magazine, Shlain openly admits
the irony of spending the first half of her life
getting people on screens and now getting
them off. She points out that it is important for
all of us to wind down and be free from the
constant interruptions and distractions that
screens bring. Because "if we don't wind down,"
she writes, "we'll never truly wake up."
In the second half of her book, which seems
redundant at times, Shlain suggests meaningful
ways to fill our day of rest without being plugged
in. She even organizes these suggestions by age
group: Adult activities include time with family,
friends, and nature; kid recommendations are
reading and playing sports.
Though it sounds simple, we might wonder
whether observing Tech Shabbat is really that
easy, particularly if we have busy jobs and hectic
family lives. Shlain does not address the legal
profession per se, but she makes it clear that she
is a busy professional and knows others who
have implemented Tech Shabbat. In fact, at the
very end of her book there are pages of testimonials from busy people who are doing this. The
key is planning, which may include informing
people; getting a watch, a landline, and a boom

box; and setting cell phones to auto-respond
so that we do not come from a place of apology
afterward.
Wisely, Shlain tempers her message with an
acknowledgment: Not everyone can afford to be
off screens on a weekly basis. She recognizes that
in the last 10 years the digital divide has flipped,
and now it is a privilege to be off screens.
For all of Shlain's criticisms of being plugged
in too much, she does recognize some of the
benefits that technology brings. We can connect
with people all over the world, get information
at our fingertips, raise money for a cause, and
order items and services at all hours.
But she cautions us that this technology is not
balanced. The designers behind the web and our
devices and apps do not reflect the diversity of
those who use them. She describes the designers
as "monochromatic" - with similar views, skills,
and gender - and says they often manipulate
information, trying to get us to give out private
data. Pointing out that trouble often starts when
power is in the hands of a few, Shlain believes that
this technology should not be a foreign language,
understood by only a small number of people.
She encourages us, the masses, to push back, call
for more transparency, and have more public
forums explaining the consequences of use.
And she suggests that we have a social media
strategy. There are so many sites for us to get connected and display ourselves to the world. Each
time we log on we should ask why we are on this
site and what image of ourselves we want to
project. Astutely, she observes that connecting
broadly does not mean connecting deeply.
In the end, Shlain brings us back to Tech Shabbat
and making time to enjoy some of the simple
things in life: in-person interactions, eye contact,
silence, and nature.

Jade Wu is an author, attorney, and aid worker.
Her book Flash Points: Lessons Learned and
Not Learned in Malawi, Kosovo, Iraq, and
Afghanistan won an honorable mention at the
2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
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Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
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Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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