Offlining founders.jpgWhen I walk down the streets of NYC, I get annoyed at people who don’t look where they’re going because they’re too busy texting. They get in my way as I speed along and sometimes I almost get hit my one. When I do talks, I’m astounded at seeing the tops of people’s heads instead of their eyes watching me. Some actually come up to me after to say they were tweeting about me while they listened. I’d rather they shut their devices and just listen. Many people are consumed with electronic communication, like someone is cutting their blood supply if they turn it off. Addictions come in many forms.

I refuse to get caught up with this. When I’m out, I want to be out and not bring my work and everyone else with me. When I’m having dinner, my attention is on the people I’m with. We’re hurting personal connections by putting so much into electronic ones. So I’m delighted to have Eric Yaverbaum, CEO of a NYC public relations agency and Mark DiMassimo, a marketing executive, as my guests today. They’ve launched a campaign called Offlining,  to get people to spend time with family with technology turned off. On their website, Offlining, you can sign their pledge to have 10 No-Device dinners between now and Thanksgiving Day 2010. Take control of your technology so it doesn’t control you!

NEW “Guilt-Tripping” Campaign Asks Parents to Turn Off PDAs and Spend Time with Family Sans Technology:?
Co-Founders of ‘Tappening’ and ‘Read to Vote’ Launch Initiative with Satirical Ads
by Eric Yaverbaum and Mark DiMassimo

People have been asking us why we–an advertising CEO and public relations CEO–decided to launch ‘Offlining, Inc.,’ an in-your-face campaign nudging everyone to turn off their mobile devices and computers for a while, in order to devote some time to good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations and PDA-free family dinners.? ?

With a combined 50 years of experience in the fast-paced world of marketing, we know how pressing business demands can be, coming from all directions and at all hours. It was not until recently that we ourselves started enjoying the advantages of sometimes completely disconnecting our tech devices and devoting more undivided and focused attention to the people that matter most in our lives.

Now that we have experienced the benefits of “offlining,” we feel a strong desire to use our combined resources to try to positively influence America’s perspective.? ?

Well, yes, we’re marketers.  We’ve devoted much of the last couple of decades convincing people 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. We’re still doing that. But now we’re also going to be selling the ‘off button!’ ?

?In addition to being marketers, we’re also husbands and fathers. (Mark is the father of three children; Eric has two.)  So, we’ve now chosen to launch ‘Offlining, Inc.,’ an initiative that urges dads and moms to boldly turn off all of their mobile devices and spend time with their families; with those that matter most – sans technology.? ?

Two of the most gratifying accomplishments of our careers were partnering to influence America’s perception of bottled water (with our “Tappening” campaign to ‘make tap water cool’) and, more recently, encouraging more than one million people to read bills before they become legislation (with our “Read-to-Vote” campaign pledges). Now, we want to help restore some balance to what we see as today’s way-overly-wired communication methods.? ?

The distraction that technology has created will only get worse with time.  

With Offlining, we’re asking that people take a pledge to have ten No-Device Dinners between now and Thanksgiving Day 2010. Be sure to make Thanksgiving Day a No-Device Day! We’re urging (some say guilt-tripping) that you use some of the time you would have spent online to really notice and engage with the people in your life!  ?

?We’re currently in a bubble of technology enthusiasm. We don’t believe we’re starting a trend. We think we’re naming one that’s already in progress, and we’re using our marketing skills to accelerate it and raise more awareness about it. We’re hoping to add fuel to a national conversation that’s already begun.

If you want to get involved in Offlining, Inc., you can  send a card from the site to your favorite ‘tech addict’ and/or sign the pledge promising 10 device-free dinners from now until Thanksgiving Day (definitely include Thanksgiving Day!). And, you can make whatever additional vows to abstain from technology that would work for you. Tell your friends and colleagues about Offlining and contribute to the conversation!! I signed the pledge. You should too!?

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