When Is It Good To Disconnect From The World

  • Jan 10, 2012

As we're all in the process of rebooting from a busy holiday season, surely we can appreciate this story. Last Thanksgiving, besides enjoying a big turkey, about 11,000 people took a pledge to go technology-free and enjoy more quality time with their loved ones. The Offlining Initiative puts the spotlight on America’s ever-growing addiction to devices. The creators of the movement explain, “one day we made a mistake -- we looked up.  We took our eyes off the screen long enough to see. We noticed we had kids and wives. We took in the way leaves open their faces to the sun. We reacquainted ourselves with the sounds birds make. And we realized these things could no longer compete.”

The team initially launched Offlining’s website and campaign on Father’s Day, encouraging tens of thousands of people to show their support. More than 140,000 people have sent Offlining e-cards from the website, encouraging family members, friends and colleagues to go tech-free. Yes, it's a little ironic to send the messages via electronic devices, but after all, that's where the target audience lives. And the message isn't about a complete change of lifestyle, it's just about taking a day off. Since the program began, there have been several one-day events, the latest of which was Thanksgiving.

The Offlining Initiative used promotional products to send the message of turning off devices for better personal communication. 

The $350,000 “Turkeytizing” marketing campaign featured print ads and e-cards too, showing images of Pilgrims communicating with laptops and BlackBerrys in hand. The images were distributed through social media and also hanging from turkey legs in the form of waterproof hang tags. (See, there's the reason this story would make it into a printing and promotions newsletter!)

A Thanksgiving turkey was offered to everyone who took the Offlining pledge. They got the word out to nine regional New York City parenting publications to raise awareness. “We’re pretty sure this is the first time that turkeys have been employed as a marketing medium. And, we wanted a way to say ‘thanks-for-giving’ your support to modify the way Americans communicate with the most important people in their lives,” says spokesman Eric Yaverbaum. In total, 2,913 turkeys were given away in branded boxes, including an Offlining sticker that was pasted onto each turkey over the plastic wrap.

In another recent initiative, Offlining took a look at “Cat's In The Cradle”, the iconic Harry Chapin song that made thousands of fathers feel guilty. As any baby boomer who ever owned a radio can tell you, the song recounts the story of an overworked dad who’s too busy to spend time with his young son, and lives to regret it. Since it was written in 1974, a lot has changed, so Offlining launched a contest for people to write an updated version. The entries offered a new look at a problem as old as parenthood. But the main purpose of the contest was to encourage everyone to remember that the best relationships are person to person.

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