24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain: a Message About Rest


I do not have a great relationship with technology.

I either surpass my screen time limits for social media, or I just avoid social media altogether. I’ll attempt to take notes or make lists on my phone, but then get tired of looking at the screen and revert back to paper – making a mess of keeping multiple things in multiple places. I take too many pictures, attempting to get the right angle, and then waste time trying to muddle through them later. I usually feel more like a social media stalker than I do socialite. And I usually leave a long day at the office with groggy eyes from staring at the screen for hours.

But, I’ve also been able to use my phone to reserve books at the library and find my way without getting lost. I’ve often taken out my phone to document a sunset or a coffee date with a friend, moments that will later go in an album. I’ve heard wonderful sermons, songs, and podcasts that have changed an entire day for me. On the days when I do make the calls I know I need, I always feel encouraged.

Technology has been both good and bad for me. A blessing and a curse.

Technology is a language I am struggling with.

If I’m very honest, I struggle with knowing how to use technology to the glory of God.

I often feel like a slave to something I barely understand. I see the ways its value, but I also see its power over us. Like, I feel so overwhelmed by my usage, and fear that I am wasting it. Wasting the resource, and wasting my time on it.

It’s 2020. I – we – cannot avoid this conversation. We have a responsibility to seriously consider the tension of technology in our lives, because it is has woven itself into every piece of our lives, and is changing the way we live. So better get to it: how can I wisely use technology, in a way that doesn’t consume or beat me?


What if the solution I’m looking for is to deeply rest and reset by turning it off?

What if we really could just…turn it off? What if we could step away from the demands of notifications, the onstream of emails, and the never-ending roll of newsfeeds? Relinquishing my screens sounds both simple and seemingly impossible.

Tiffany Shlain, a filmmaker in California, understands this tension all too-well. She believes that developing a healthier self and relationship with technology is that simple, yet seemingly impossible answer: turn it off. For 24 hours every week.

No cell phones, not even for GPS or music. No TV shows or movies. No reminders or emails. And in the place of rings and notification pings, is a quiet that has allowed Shlain and her family to invite friends over for dinner, go on hikes, read books, journal, and ultimately, reset. Every. Single. Week.

It’s wild that such a simple action is a bold approach, but in her novel 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, Shlain takes us on the journey of unplugging one day a week and the extreme benefits she has found over the years. She digs into the science behind tech’s affects on us, and outlines how to use it better.

It was easy for me to enjoy this book, because I am very curious about healthier boundaries and screen time limits. I couldn’t mark enough of this book. One, because it’s the library’s copy and I wish I had my own. Two, because every page had something to say. A couple weeks after reading it, here is what is still sticking out to me:

One. We’re Addicted and Our Brains are Literally Changing

I hate to be the one to break this news, but every engineer behind our screens – every app, every service, every little icon and notification – is designed to “monetize our eyeballs.” We are literally placed on an endless loop that is made to make us lose track of time and place. Like slot machines and nicotine, our desire for stimulation has been fed the overwhelm, instant feed of the web and still feels lacking. How did they do this? Because they know how addiction works.

The developers behind our screens have not intended to make us our healthiest and best selves, although they’ll market that because it sells. The more time we’re on our screens, the more money they get. And they’ve got us because we just can’t look away.

We are no different than an addict and the web is our dealer. Our addiction to screens, like any other addiction, rewires us. It changes our attention span, our level of focus, our memory. It affects the way we connect with others, down to our ability to even maintain eye contact. Shlain gets into a lot of the research and study behind this in 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, and it blew me away.

This takeaway is big for me, because it re-centers me. It reminds me that my usage of technology, if left unchecked, will produce damaging effects to my life goals and relationships. Shlain writes,

“The human brain is constantly developing. Everything you do and experience is reshaping connections in your brain, strengthening some connections while weakening or pruning others. This also holds true for your online life: every link you follow, every post you read, every comment you make, is shaping the wiring of our brain.”

The freakiest part about this is not only do I suffer, but my relationships do too. When I constantly choose my screen over faces, I am saying that my screens are more important to me than connection and community. Deep in my soul though, I know that’s untrue. It’s up to me set up a different routine though.

“Fifty years ago, people turned to cigarettes at the exact times we now turn to our phones: waiting, standing in line, when feeling anxious or bored, first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, last thing at night, after sex. Perhaps the big difference between smartphones and cigarettes is that usually you could start a conversation with someone by asking for a light, as opposed to the group parallel play we all seem to do today: head down, no connection with the person next to you.”

Tiffany Shlain, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, page 42

Two. Deep Rest Comes in the Quiet

Shlain’s anecdote for the busyness of tech is the quiet of solitude. In one of my favorite chapters of the book, she gets into our deep need for silence, arguing that the best way to control our technology is by making its silence a part of our life’s rhythm.

When we make “silent sanctuaries” for ourselves, we are giving our brains the time to process the overstimulation of notifications, conversations, podcasts, lectures, music and everything else we’ve heard. Literally, we are making healthier bodies that will live longer and stronger brains that will continue positively developing. Shlain delves into the science of how people who rest in the quiet are literally healthier.

Lower blood pressure. Better memory. Longer lives. And all it takes is turning off the noise, and being brave enough to let my mind wander.

I didn’t know this, but I shouldn’t be surprised. God wants us to sit in solitude and quiet with him. Of course our bodies would feel tremendous health benefits when we obey that. Of course God knows us best, and knows that the noise of the world is damaging when it’s all we hear.

I crave his solitude. I really do.

I worry for us all, that we would become so encumbered on our screens that we would rob ourselves of the healthy minds and bodies Christ has given us. I really feel for the church. I fear that my Christian brothers and sisters will grow to love our screens so much, that we will forget how to hear the voice of God and feel his presence in our lives. I fear that we could forget how to sit in solitude with a God who can easily feel far away, and that with every phone pick up, we will distance ourselves further from him. I deeply fear that we would forget how to pray fervently and be students of the word, because we could let our addiction to screens overtake us.

Three. Everyone Needs This

Here is the craziest thing: Shlain is not a Christian. She’s of Jewish descent, but does not practice. She doesn’t read the Bible or claim any relationship with Jesus. But she has picked up on something that is wired in the very depth of our souls, and that is the need for rest. Not just sleep, but deep, soul rest. She has taken an element of Jewish culture – a Sabbath, which is a day of rest – and made it set a part. She’s consecrated it to the renewing and healing of her body by trading in the noise and busyness for solitude and community.

This speaks volumes to me. This confirms that God has designed us to be off one day every week. He’s made us to work and create and hustle most of the time, but then to have a time to reset. He’s made us to take note of our limitations.

Not just Christians. All of us.

I used to think that taking a Sabbath simply meant not working, which could include watching Netflix, Instagramming, playing Tetris (literally the only game I have on my phone). Then, several months ago, I started turning my social media off on Sundays. I’m not always perfect at it, but what I discovered is how much richer my days feel when I’m not looking at an endless roll of everyone’s highlight reels.

And as I go deeper still, I’m learning that rest requires more than doing nothing. It requires positioning ourselves to receive what is good for us. Things like dinner with friends, hiking a trail, journaling about the week, praying – those small acts strengthen our souls in ways that picking up our phones again cannot.

I know how it feels to take a day’s hike to an incredible lookout over a river, or the warmth of curling up with a good book. I know how loved I feel when I sit with a friend, and she never once picks up her phone, because the conversation with me is enough. Seeking intentional quiet is good for our bodies and souls. I know why; this is the plan.

It’s 2020. We’re all humans. None of us can avoid this message because (1) we all use technology and (2) we’ve all been made by a God who set designed these patterns within us all the same.  We might be at different journeys and levels of understanding, but none of us are excluded from the need to rest and the implications of our tech-filled society.


Final Thoughts: I Highly Recommend

At some point during reading this book, I realized that my habits make up my life. If I want to live a creative life, I have to make space for that. If I want to spend less time on my screen, I have to set limits for that. If I want to be real with people and live in community, I have to practice it.

And none of those goals will be achieved by refreshing the scroll again or binging Parks and Rec.

I have deep concerns for where we are headed as a society on screens; I have deeper concerns still for the church. We were made for more than life on a screen. 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week showed me that my concern is well-founded, and gave me a blueprint for how to begin the arduous process of change. This book showed me that the lingering desire to do more in my life than stay on a screen, and to find deep rest to recover weekly, is not crazy; it’s innately woven within me. Within us.

If we’re not careful, we’ll live on auto-pilot. We’ll consume, but won’t create and when the time comes to sit, we won’t know how to. We’ll run ourselves dry to the bones, but friends, we were made for something so much richer. The book reminded me of that, and put words to a feeling I’ve not been able to describe.

I’m not yet on a 24/6 lifestyle yet. I am moving and preparing myself to get there though. 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week has been my launching pad, a guide of sorts to help me begin the process. Even if you’re not quite ready for that radical change in lifestyle, I highly recommend this book.

You might surprise yourself with the ideas that come to you when you choose to turn off the tech for a day.  

“When I was living 24/7, life was flying by. Quantity ruled. More hours meant more productivity. More value. More worth. When my family and I started taking that day off, I saw that it allowed the best memories to linger. And it’s no coincidence that most of those best memories fall on my screen-free day. Partly, that’s because it’s happening when I’m doing my favorite things with my favorite people, but it’s also because I’m receptive to it. I’m actually going to remember what happens that day because the impression won’t be replaced by the tweet I saw, the stressful headline that I can’t stop thinking about, or an email that requires my focus.”

Tiffany Shlain, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman: A Prophetic Wake Up Call, Echoing Back Decades

Amusing Ourselves to Death | Author: Neil Postman | Genre: Nonfiction

Paperback: 184 | My Edition’s Publisher: Penguin Group (2006) | Original Publisher: Viking Penguin Inc. (1985) | ISBN: 978-0-14-303653-1

Rating: 5/5

“Television, in other words, is transforming our culture into one vast arena for show business.”

Postman, page 80

If you need a wake-up call to the ways that entertainment has reshaped our culture, and continues to infiltrate every part of our society, this is for you.

If you need to confirm your weary suspicions that media is crazy and is making us crazy, this is also for you.

Neil Postman in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, argues how public thought and conversation has been misshapen in an era of show business, constant entertainment, information overload, reliance on technological media, and ultimately, led us to an addiction us to our own deadly disease. Speaking to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Postman describes how we are ruining ourselves and our society with our addiction to being entertained.

Yeah, it’s a lot.

It’s a heavy read, and it took me several weeks. But, I think this is important for us to consider. We cannot deny the fact that our entire society has been completely infiltrated by entertainment, technology, and media.

Have we made it through the year 2019 yet? Just barely. Have we survived next year’s presidential election? Lord, help us.

It Got Me Thinking…

Postman’s argument is not simply that TV is bad. Instead, he illustrates to us how vastly different communication has become in recent decades. Taking each chapter to discuss a different avenue – specifically politics, education, news, and religion – and how TV has changed these spheres, his overarching theme is that TV is deteriorating those spaces because it is not suitable to relay this information and to give room for conversation to follow.  

In short, modern day America has become so addicted to entertainment, that we won’t even receive the news and politics and education without it.

But what if those pairs can’t coexist?

When we choose to use the screen to relay all of our news and politics and education and religion, we are choosing to receive it in a way that entertains us, and only widening the gap between our ability to have a thoughtful discussion and our desire to always be entertained. This book makes us wonder how entertainment has changed the difficult conversations.

“Television, as I have implied earlier, serves us most usefully when presenting junk entertainment. It serves us most ill when it co-opts serious modes of discourse – news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion – and turns them in to entertainment packages. We would all be better off if television got worse, not better. ‘The A-Team’ and ‘Cheers’ are no threat to our public health. ’60 Minutes,’ ‘Eye-Witness News,’ and ‘Sesame Street’ are.”

postman, pages 159-160

He says that we are teaching ourselves to love TV – not the information. We are a society of people who are being taught that if it’s not entertaining or pleasurable to me, then I don’t want to hear it. So, the only way that we receive information is by getting it in little pieces crammed between advertisements. There is no cohesion, or connection to its context. There is not background or even time for a full argument, to discuss all of its implications.

Just like our addiction to scrolling and seeing dozens of photos and bits of information in a mere minute, so is our reception to news. Just tons of tiny bits, and no glue to hold it together. Not to mention, no time to make sense of it all.

One of the most alarming chapters to me was Chapter 8 “Shuffle Off to Bethlehem.” In this chapter, Postman discusses religion and TV. And it’s astounding.

On our screen, we have witnessed profane events and have sinful memories etched into our brains; it’s difficult to use our screen for a sacred event. I can easily turn my screen to a Preds game or Netflix. It’s no problem to click over to Instagram. What about that space is suitable for my worship? What have I truly consecrated and given up in the total adoration for the Lord that I claim to love, when I give him a bit of time between my scrolling and watching? When I rely on my screen for spiritual refreshment, I will always be let down, because there are always apps waiting on either side of my worship, rushing me back.

I should also note that Postman doesn’t claim Christianity, or any other religion in the book. But even as he writes from a secular mindset, he sees these problems – perhaps more clearly than my religious friends can. That’s also astounding.

“The problem, in any case, does not reside in what people watch. The problem is in that we watch. The solution must be found in how we watch. For I believe it may fairly be said that we have yet to learn what television is. And the reason is that there has been no worthwhile discussion, let alone widespread public understanding, of what information is and how it gives direction to a culture.”

postman, page 160

By the way, in case you didn’t catch it above, this book was written over 3 decades ago. And he is spot. On. In a prophetic tone echoing from its original creation in 1985, Postman has presented us with a detailed warning that we are on the way to our own disaster. His message has not lost meaning over these years. Instead, it’s clearer and more relevant now than ever.

As I read, I thought of my own screens. No, for me it’s not cable television anymore. But it is Twitter and Instagram, Netflix and Crowd City. It’s mindless scrolling, wasting time numbing my brain and believing every headline I read. And after the last couple years our nation has seen, as we mock a president’s ridiculous comments on social media and receive risqué headlines that barely give us the story, who can argue that we don’t have an entertainment problem.

Actually, if I’m honest with myself, I have a hard time stomaching the news because it does feel like a joke. I can’t take the most serious news I will receive seriously, because of its packaging. And of course, the way its packaged and delivered alters the message altogether. It leaves me to wonder – what can I trust?

From a Christian, to a Christian:

Coming from a Christian worldview, brothers and sisters, we have to consider this topic. As Christ-followers, we should desire to be the most present, intentional people in all our conversations – no matter how big or small. But how often does our media get in the way of our presence? How many time have we worshipped our media and entertainment? How often do we let it rob our memory of the dignity of a person?

If the world cares about education, politics, religion, how much more should I? I know our Maker, and I know what he says about the value of people. He has dignified our position, and I call him a liar when I’m not engaging in these conversations.

Most of all, my pride is reigning when I choose entertainment first. I am saying that how I feel is more important than the person or conversation at hand. This is a woe of 2019, but that doesn’t excuse us from the damaging affects of our phones.

The verdict:

We would all do well to seriously consider our relationship with media, and to question our addiction to entertainment. And for that reason alone (and because I love ya and don’t want to see you waste your brain power), I believe this provocative, bold book is well worth the read.

Don’t fall asleep on this one. Put on your brave face. Brace yourself for impact. Grab a cup of coffee, and settle in. This is good. Difficult, but good.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus: A Quick Read That’s Actually Believable

One of Us Is Lying | Author: Karen M. McManus | Genre: YA Mystery, Fiction

Hardcover: 416 pages | Publisher: Delacorte Press (May 30, 2017) | ISBN: 1524714682

Rating: 4/5

“I know what it’s like to tell yourself a lie so often that it becomes the truth.” 

A gossip app. An unlikely bunch of people in the same room. A death. Surprising friendships, breakups, and hook ups. And people searching to clear their name, even when it means admitting to the secrets they thought would stay buried. Karen M. Manus, in her YA Mystery One of Us is Lying, weaves high school stereotypes into a surprising story of belonging, changing, and fessing up by way of a framed murder.

When a group of students are put into detention, they think their biggest problem is proving to the teacher why they aren’t supposed to be in there and how there’s been a mistake. They have no idea that in minutes, when the creator of a rank student body gossip app, Simon, falls over dead, they will become murder suspects attempting to prove to the law and the watching world that they didn’t do it.

The only problem is that the law is determined to prove one of these kids guilty. And the media eats the case, following the kids around and updating the world on the latest happenings in the case without regard for what might actually be true.

Also. As if warding off the media and fighting the justice system isn’t challenging enough, high schoolers are mean and these murder suspects have their peers to deal with too, so there’s that.

You think that throughout the story you are reading about kids solving a murder. And you are. But what you are truly uncovering in this tale is people owning up to the truth, falling in love, and dealing with the firsthand sting of the media and how crazy the public is for a juicy story.

As with any YA thriller, I often find myself thinking while reading, “Okay, but would this really happen? Also, how old are these kids anyways? Because this is not what my life looked like at 18.”

I usually expect that in this genre. For the sake of keeping the pages turning, I can look past that. I can put my creative hat on, and play along with the author’s story; I was happy to do that for One of Us is Lying. The story felt more believable than others I’ve read.

Although I didn’t particularly feel connected to some of the characters and some moments that were supposed to be monumental felt unsurprising, I found this book to be a low stakes, easy read. There’s nothing too heavy – well, other than solving a murder – being dealt with, and you know, life is hard enough. Sometimes I just need a page turning story to follow without much thought.

Certainly, if you wanted to heavily discuss socio-economic status and the justice of the law, there are plenty of conversations that you could start using this book. However, I took this opportunity to read a story and to make a few quick points about life in the 21st century.

“She’s a princess and you’re a jock,” he says. He thrusts his chin toward Bronwyn, then at Nate. “And you’re a brain. And you’re a criminal. You’re all walking teen-movie stereotypes.” 

Each character enters the story with a predictable caricature. It’s the same ole’ status quos we’ve been simplifying the high school experience into for decades. But as we dig a little closer, we see that there’s more to everyone than their positions and titles. And even further, we find that everyone has lied in some way to get and maintain their placement.

It’s interesting how willing we are to live in the darkness of a lie we’re not even happy about, when walking  in the light of the truth produces within us a richness we would have wanted sooner.

But I have to say: each of these kids, from the princess down to the criminal, own up to their story. They do. When their hiding is exposed, they take it. Honestly, I think that was the most surprising part of the story because I only recall a handful of people in my own life with that kind of integrity.

When they fessed up, they changed. They weren’t bound to their lies anymore, but were placed fully in the open where they were free and had nothing left to lose. Not even their reputation, and to hell with it anyway. Once they had the guts to leave the relationship or admit how they really got the passing Chemistry grade, they were formed into a bolder, more honest, more intriguing version of themselves.

No one is perfect, and things begin to change once we believe that. Not only of others, but of ourselves too. (Also, side note, the criminal was the most honest guy in the whole story. Take that for what you will.) 

“I stand and hold out my hand. She gives me a skeptical look, but takes it and lets me pull her to her feet. I put my other hand in the air. ‘Bronwyn Rojas, I solemnly swear not to murder you today or at any point in the future. Deal?’
‘You’re ridiculous,’ she mutters, going even redder.
‘It concerns me you’re avoiding a promise not to murder me.” 

Okay, the love story. The classic rich girl falls for the poor boy tale. The one where she stays up late on the phone when she should have been studying, and he stops selling drugs. I’m really doing it an injustice because it’s way more adorable on the pages.

It’s an innocent love story between two murder suspects, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Manus keeps it clean, and uses the two to help each other grow out of who they thought they had to be. I appreciated that.

“Like we’re some kind of hip high school murder club without a care in the world.” 

It’s, like, really freaky how much we lean on the media to give us the truth today. We esteem it and follow it, as if it can do no wrong. But as Manus shows us, it can do so much wrong. For starters, it followed these kids around. Reporters waited after school and surrounded their homes. And for what? To get the latest report on a story? A story that people attached to, and treated like a reality show? Not cool.

And the fan base. Oh, my word. The public following the media reports were taking sides and picking teams of who they thought the murderer was. Suddenly these kids had fan pages on Facebook, and had to stay away from Twitter to avoid people’s comments.

It was like everyone watched a 5 minute report, and were suddenly experts on the nuances of the whole case. Suddenly there was no regard for the humanity of the people involved, and the embarrassment, confusion, chaos they were feeling. There wasn’t substantial support or encouragement offered to the suspects. The case, as a group of kids fought for the truth to be found and to save any hopes for their future, became trivialized; the watching public waited to see who would fall next like it was some kind of TV show.

It’s a mirror to our society’s response to news today. We hear the news and genuinely believe that the media just wants to help us and help everyone. We do. We follow it. We worship it to the point that the implications of what we’re hearing is totally detached from what really happened, on the altar of being in the know and hearing a good story. We don’t even consider that what we believe might be wrong.

It’s not that we just form opinions about stories in the media, but we state those opinions like fact. And really, assuming that we could possibly grasp the whole story – with all its sides, humans, and moving parts involved – in a matter of minutes is the most prideful thing we could do.

I can barely remember to put on deodorant in the mornings, much less solves a crime case. One of is Lying reminded me to humble myself, and not assume I know everything when it comes to people and stories. What you see is not the full truth; everyone carries baggage that we might not ever get to see or understand.

Everyone is motivated by something, and this book shows us that some motivations are better than others. With all that said, don’t believe everything ya hear, kids.

And while you’re at it, go check on your people. You might think they’re okay, but they might be battling demons and need helping finding the light again. Be the light.