It must be a week for giving up stuff.
Lent began Wednesday, with Christians promising to refrain from such indulgences as chocolate and alcohol for 40 days.
And beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, the fifth annual National Day of Unplugging asked folks to go off the grid for 24 hours.
Cellphones, tablets, laptops — organizers of the NDU want you to give ’em all up until 6 p.m. Saturday. No Twitter. No Facebook. No texting. Can’t go cold turkey for 24 hours? That’s OK. Every little bit of time offline helps, organizers say.
“It’s become an international movement and a chance for individuals and families to pause and make a conscious choice to connect with the world around them,” said Robin Kramer, executive director of Reboot, the nonprofit behind the event. “The NDU offers a welcome respite from the never-ending stream of digital information we are exposed to throughout the year.”
Just exactly how many people will turn off is unknown, but “we expect tens of thousands of people at a minimum to participate in their own way,” said Tanya Schevitz, spokeswoman for the National Day of Unplugging. “We are hearing from people all over the world that this is something that is resonating with them.”
That would include folks in Fort Worth.
While workers didn’t get started early enough to participate in this weekend’s event, the city is looking to do its part in the future, said Monique Hill, interim superintendent of community services for the city of Fort Worth.
“We’re very interested in doing it in the future,” Hill said, explaining that officials want to encourage families to go offline and come to city parks to enjoy the outdoors “in a no cellphone area.”
Hill said the city is looking at dates for the event.
Nationally, one of the most interesting events is in San Francisco, where a party is being held for more than 2,000 young people who will have to check their cellphones at the door. Once inside, they can do such old school activities as writing on typewriters and playing board games, Schevitz said.
She said National Day of Unplugging organizers have also reached out to those attending SXSW, the annual festival in Austin that started Thursday and features music, film and all things interactive.
“We know that the people at SXSW Interactive are among the most plugged-in and likely tech-addicted people in the world, and we encourage them to take time to put down their cellphones, stop their status updates to talk face-to-face to each other — at least for a little while,” Schevitz said in an email.
Those interested in signing a pledge can do so at nationaldayofunplugging.com. And yes, you can like it on Facebook.
Lee Williams, 817-390-7840