Issue 18: Unplugging, Paper Phones, and Screen-Blocking Glasses
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Issue 18: Unplugging, Paper Phones, and Screen-Blocking Glasses

Black Friday is around the corner and the spamming of holiday sales has started. You've probably already been inundated with loads of ads to buy more stuff with every scroll. Want to avoid it all? We look at Google's newest Paper Phone and chat with author Emmy-nominated filmmaker Tiffany Schlain about unplugging. Plus, we're hosting a special Anti-Black Friday Sale for our famed screen-blocking glasses—read on for more.

Google's Tech Addiction Answer: A Paper Phone

We all know that we likely spend far too much time on our phones. Google's Creative Lab teamed up with a design studio called Special Projects in London to create a crafty digital detox, and the result is a paper phone, currently available on Android.

This isn't Google's first effort to raise awareness towards how much we use our phones. In the past they've unveiled Unlock Clock, which counts how many times we look at our phones a day, and WeFlip, which encourages people to put down their phones, together. 

For those concerned about the environmental impact, don't worry, they've done their research: "printing one page per day would produce approximately 10g of CO2 in a year. In contrast, using a mobile device for one hour a day produces 1.25 Tonnes of CO2 at the end of the year."  

If you really don't want to look at any screens, you can glaze right over those 80 inch flat screens. In honor of Black Friday, we’re doing a flash sale of IRL Glasses to help you block all the noise out! IRL Glasses will be available now until December 2nd here.

Interview: Tiffany Shlain, Webby Awards Creator and Author of 24/6:The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week 

Photo by Lauri Levenfeld.

Tiffany Shlain is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and creator of the Webby Awards. She is the author of a newly-released book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week. She spent a solid two years condensing a decade of thoughts, ideas, lessons learned into this book, which is part memoir, part big-picture ideas for society. We chat with her about all things unplugging. 

Where's your happy place? 
Home with screens off for Tech Shabbat with my family, which we do from Friday night until 5pm on Saturday. It always starts with a big communal home-cooked meal around the table with family and friends. It’s so very social. With lots of storytelling and laughing. Then the next day is more of a “quiet happy place.” That could involve lying on the living room rug with one of my daughters, talking or reading, journaling, cooking, napping, biking, and other relaxing “ings.”

What was the most surprising thing you learned in your research of the history of a weekly day of rest across cultures?
The seven-day week with one or two days off is such a given I was shocked to learn other cultures have experimented with longer and shorter schedules. Most of these experiments were failures. The best example is probably nepreryvka, the five-day week that Stalin instituted in the Soviet Union. People hated it, even though the shorter week meant they got more rest days per year.

The problem was that no one had the same rest day—days off were staggered. The schedule made it impossible for people to enjoy their rest days together. Today, technology has blurred our time on and time off in so many ways. I think bringing back the concept of a “rest” day—which in our modern age means without screens—where people do truly rest is a good thing.  

"I love staring out at the clouds from an airplane window. I find my thoughts have more places to roam, the further the distance I am looking at. Although I wouldn’t call it getting bored—more letting my wander."

What's your favorite way to get bored?
I love staring out at the clouds from an airplane window. I find my thoughts have more places to roam, the further the distance I am looking at. Although I wouldn’t call it getting bored—more letting my wander.

How did the idea for a Technology Shabbat come about? 
Before living 24/6, I was on screens 24/7. I felt like I wasn’t paying enough attention to the people I loved who were right in front of me. Then, ten years ago, within days, my father left this world and my daughter entered it, and all I wanted to do was end the nonstop distractions and slow time down. 

Then, an organization asked me to participate in a collective day to rethink the Sabbath for our modern age called the National Day of Unplugging. While Reboot’s plan was for one full day offline annually, the experience made us feel so good and present that we decided to continue the practice weekly. We called it our “Technology Shabbat” because we combined a screen-free twenty-four hours with some Shabbat rituals, like a special Friday-night meal with family and friends. We had no idea how many years we would continue this weekly Tech Shabbat ritual or how much it would change our lives.

What tips would you offer our audience on how to have a healthier relationship with tech?

  • Establish guidelines for where and when screens can be used. 
  • Put a small notebook in your bag, with a pen that you love, and consider a paper scheduler. This way, you’ll pull out this book instead of your phone any moment you want to jot something down, schedule something, or record something. You can even get one the size of a phone if it’ll make you feel more comfortable. 
  • Set a text auto-response from your phone when you go offline so that people know you’re unavailable. And let them know you are enjoying life away from the screen. 
  • My auto-response is “I have my phone off to rebalance my mind. Will write to you when I am back refreshed.” 
  • Set aside time each day to let your mind wander: while taking a shower, doing the dishes, driving, walking, biking, exercising. Try not to fill those times with talking on the phone or listening to podcasts or news. 

Thank you Tiffany! And as always, thank you for your attention. At the Slow Scroll, we always welcome feedback, prompts, and tips. Want to share your own tips for unplugging? Just email us.

Send this to a friend who needs to slow down. Then grab a cup of coffee with them.

Why ‘The Slow Scroll’?

Social Isolation is Killing Us. Tech companies are failing us. And we’re all hopelessly addicted to our screens.

Living IRL has never been more important.

That’s why we created The Slow Scroll, a weekly newsletter by IRL Labs, sent directly to your inbox (oh the irony). The Slow Scroll curates the latest and most inspiring content and resources, empowering readers to untether and live slowly.

Brought to you by...

Ivan Cash, Editor-in-Chief
Cyrena Lee, Editor and Lead Writer
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Emily Lin, Producer

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