Beep, beep, ring, ring, ring, buzz; the sounds of social media are constant.
Ten minutes before class begins, half the class arrives early waiting for the professor to start. Do students take the time to chat and get to know each other? No. Instead, each is on his or her phone. Have you been to a restaurant recently and seen a couple sitting at a table, not speaking, each on his or her phone?
On one hand, social media does a lot to help create community among people who may live far away from each other. It allows us to find others with common interests all over the world. On the other hand, do the constant short bursts of distraction prevent us from thinking deeply about anything? Is it possible that taking the opportunity to completely unplug every once in a while might allow us to experience quiet, to encounter nature, to make new friends and to develop the type of supportive, nurturing community which makes life easier and more pleasant?
“Remember the Sabbath day and set it aside. For six days, work at all your occupations, but the seventh day is for….” something else.
At some time in my early 20s, I began to find the frantic pace of modern life oppressive. There is a strong Jewish tradition that goes back to the Bible. It is meant to help us to slow down and develop mindfulness toward each other and the world. That tradition is to set time aside every week to rest. Shabbat has become a mini vacation every week and increasingly important to me. It has become a full day elevated above the rest. It gives me time set aside to think about God. My family and I have one day without rushing. We read, enjoy the company of friends and community, pray. Do you ever give yourself the opportunity to unplug?
RABBI JACQUELINE ROMM SATLOW is the director of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and coordinator for Jewish Culture at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. This originally appeared as part of Soul Sightings in the UMass Dartmouth student newspaper, The Torch.