A new grass-roots effort encourages avid electronic and technology users to unplug and reconnect with the real world. Bloggers, IMers, Blackberry devotees, and Internet users around the world are temporarily turning off their p

hones, computers and televisions in an effort to get back to simpler living.

Ariel Meadows Stallings is a Seattle author, blogger and part-time marketing manager for Microsoft as reported on MSNBC.com. In January, she resolved to unplug for 52 nights for the year of 2008 after realizing just how addicted she was the technology environment. Blogging about her experience spread the word to unplug while connecting her with a global population of technology users who text while driving or surf the Web while in bed.

"I thought it was just a problem that affected me and my geeky colleagues. But then I started hearing from Italians with similar issues, and Poles and Czechs, and I even got a query from someone in Colombia,” explains Stallings as reported by MSNBC.

"So I realize it's not just an American problem but an international one."

Indeed, Canadian computer developers Denis Bystrove and Ashutosh Rajeka are coordinating a global “Shutdown Day” May 2 - an experiment to see how many people can shut down their computers for one day and what (if anything) will happen.

And, even whole towns are supporting the unplugged cause. Just last month, the Needham Youth Commission sponsored a month long Needham Unplugged campaign urging residents to "unplug their electronics" and spend time with each other.

So, are we too connected?

Dr. Dave Greenfield, who operates the Center for Internet Behavior in Connecticut and wrote a book called “Virtual Addiction” believes unrestrained Internet use can be a problem.

According to Dr. Greenfield, various studies conclude that between 1 and 10 percent of Americans use technology in a way that can negatively affect their lives, relationships, health or jobs.

Not sure how addicted you are? Try unplugging for one day or even a whole weekend and see what happens.

By Katlheen Clark
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