I recently received a fascinating e-mail reply to a message I had sent to a friend teaching at Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen in Austria. It was one of those prewritten messages that the mail software sends off automatically once it receives a message during a specific time period. This is what it said: “Thank you for your e-mail. Our availability from May 13 to 17, 2013, is limited because of a project of Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen called ‘ECGO—[German abbreviation for] A Campus Goes Offline.’ By means of this project we want to motivate students and employees to reflect on responsible usage of modern instruments of communication.”
For five days an entire school campus went offline—I was intrigued. Can you imagine five days without e-mails, text messages, tweets, Facebook updates, news from your favorite news outlet, or your preferred TV programs?
Increasingly we live more online than in the real world. Need to buy some supplements, a computer, or running shoes? Go to the online store of your favorite e-tailer, and you’ll be able to find anything your heart may desire (and often even at better prices than in the brick-and-mortar stores). Have you noticed that people waiting for an appointment in the doctor’s office look at their hands—or better, the smartphones or tablets they’re holding in their hands? No eye contact, little (if any) conversation—just me and my smartphone. We keep track of hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of Facebook friends who tell us about an extraordinary café latte or the color of a sweater they are wearing today.* We have become news junkies who need to know right now what’s currently happening in China or Timbuktu or the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. I find myself pulling out my smartphone when it vibrates—even when I am in the middle of listening to a wonderful sermon. The vibration speaks of urgency and immediacy.
“A Campus Goes Offline” is a wonderful idea that could be replicated individually or in Continue Reading…