Brain Pickings

Down With The Man | Part 4

Why The Man hates Canadians. Welcome to the Down With The Man issue: Part 4.


If you’re like us and have a severe chronic email compulsion, you’ll both love and hate the newest 2.0 holiday: this Saturday, May 3, is Shutdown Day. That’s right, if you ever feel like The Man’s got you by the throat by way of your own computer, now’s your chance — sure, there are bound to be withdrawal symptons, but we’ll be right there with ya shaking off the offline jitters.

The non-profit organization is the brainchild of Denis Bystrov, a Canadian computer programmer who partnered with British filmmaker Michael Taylor in 2007 to spread awareness about the far-reaching effects — physical, mental, social, environmental — of today’s excessive consumption of all things i. We find it fascinating because it’s such a perfect metaphor for the good/evil dichotomy of the web: the initiative could easily become one of the largest Internet-based global experiments as its success hangs solely on the power of the social web, but its “success” by definition also urges us to reduce the use of this very same medium.

We also dig the way it puts things into perspective environmentally: if a single 24-hour period of shutdown could save 6814.8 kilowatt hours of energy in the U.S. alone just from the people who have already registered, imagine the impact of reduced everyday global computer use in the long run.

But, let’s face it: between Facebook hurling friend birthday reminders at you, your boss sending you those pesky “if you get a chance…” weekend emails and your bank bombarding you with e-statements, you sure could use a full-on, no-buts, no-peeks breather — and make a difference all at the same time. Besides pledging you’re in, you can also join the Shutdown Day Facebook group or even be part of an offline flash mob in your area.

So go ahead, pencil it in your calendar. Oh, who are we kidding — we know you don’t have a paper one and haven’t touched a pencil in years. But, hey, that’s one iCal event reminder you’ll be looking forward to.

Published April 27, 2008




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