Try the OffLining Pledge for Yom Kippur?

The greatest disaster in our recent American journey—9,000 miles in 40 days—came on the fourth day in Duluth, Minnesota, when I left my briefcase leaned up against a curb as I backed our Chevy van out of a parking place.

Ouch! A powerful MacBook Pro—gone! An iPad 3G—gone! An iPad docking keyboard—gone! Even the briefcase itself was torn open! The best thing I can say about that moment on our father-son reporting journey is this: There’s no way I could possibly blame my son for the accident. He had nothing to do with it. And, boy, is he glad about that!

A week or so later, when we spent a day with the Zen monk and author Geri Larkin, I knew what she would say when this story inevitably was shared. She said: “David, it was a Zen moment! It was a sign that you should, you know …” and Geri clapped her hands loudly “… wake up and be aware of what’s really around you!”

Indeed, Geri, although I wish that Zen realization hadn’t cost upwards of $3,000! But, I did appreciate her wisdom. There’s something about toting iPhones and iPads that makes one want to keep tapping those screens.

Well, you don’t actually have to run over your digital equipment this weekend, but a couple of very clever marketing executives, Mark DiMassimo and Eric Yaverbaum, are continuing their own personal campaign for occasional days of “OffLining” with special ads designed to capture the message of Yom Kippur: the need for reflection, making amends and seeking reconciliation—atonement.

You’ve got to chuckle over these Yom Kippur ads featuring some of our culture’s favorite “bad boys” and “bad girls” from Mel Gibson and Tiger Woods to “LiLo,” Lindsay Lohan.

If you’re a 50-something like me, you’ll recall the original graphic concept behind these new signs: the beloved Levy’s Rye advertisements that debuted in the 1960s, selling bread and also celebrating American diversity. I still can close my eyes and see the Levy’s Native American model in a broad-brimmed hat biting into his Levy’s. We’ve got the “Irish cop” ad here, below, as an example of the Levy’s campaign—but you can probably remember the other Levy’s gems as well.

Why OffLine?

We’ll give todays’ final word to the guys who developed these clever new reminders. On their website, they explain their rationale this way:

We persuade for a living.

We’ve devoted much of the last couple of decades to convincing you to log on, click here, call now, surf, search, pay bills in your underwear, trade from the beach, add “friends” to your digital network and, as AT&T once famously promised in their “You Will” campaign, tuck your children in from your mobile device. Then 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. We marketers had won! All around us, all the heads in all the malls, airports and train stations seemed bowed in reverence to the device. Life had become multi-screen, multi-task, multi-plexed, mashed-up, an unrelieved contest for diminishing attention.

Those who use the media professionally were perhaps the most inundated of all.

We are children of the Silicon Revolution. Eric’s Mom was one of America’s first female PhD’s in Computer Science. She still writes textbooks on this stuff. Back in the 70s she told Eric everyone would one day have a computer in their home—and he was pretty sure she was crazy. Mark’s Dad designed integrated circuits, from the first speed dial to a giant particle accelerator. He used to say, “We invent technology to be our servant, not our master.”

So, we decided to strike a blow for mastery, with the aim of tilting the balance and putting humanity back on top where we belong. We’re not fundamentalists. We’re not anti-marketing. In fact, we love marketing and we respect its power, which is why we’re committed to applying our expertise to the important things. And we’re not anti-technology—on the contrary, we love technology and all it can do for us. But we’re only going to enjoy those benefits if we learn to use the Off Button.

Send a FREE OffLining E-card to a friend for Yom Kippur

Here’s the OffLining website set up by DiMassimo and Yaverbaum, which at the moment we’re publishing this Yom Kippur story features 3 free Yom Kippur E-cards you can send. (Over time, the webmasters of this site change up the greetings.)

We want our “national conversation” to continue

Conversation is far better than the dangerous shouting matches we’ve been witnessing in our global culture recently. So, please, email us at [email protected] and tell us what you think of our stories—and, please tell a friend to start reading along with you!

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