About Project Unplug

A digital mindfulness experiment

The Project Begins

The Unplugged Project started sometime in 2008, after a long series of observations about the role of digital media and the impact it was having on social norms and real world relationships. What was once viewed as the great unifying force to bring communities together began having the opposite effect on the world around me.

I noticed an absence of deep and engaging conversations, shorter attention spans, and increasing stress in the lives of those around me.

My Story

For most of my career, I have been working with some form of digital media. I started my career during the dot-com years, dreaming of a connected world and hating traditional marketing and branding. I was plugged in. Very plugged in. I had 2 cell phones, multiple computers, and I waited in line for new technology to come out the day it launched. I would start my day and end my day staring at a computer screen. It was bad.

Life of a Digital Dealer

I was on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (mima.org) for over 5 years, which meant that even in my non-work hours I was trying to convince people to embrace their digital destiny. It was my job, and duty, to ensure the world knew the value of a connected lifestyle.

Something changed the day I retired from the MIMA board. The market had matured to the point where “digital” had finally won over the hearts and minds of the rest of the world. The rag tag band of rebellious digital natives no longer needed me to be their cheerleader, which felt amazing. But it also left me thinking about one thing: had we gone too far?

New social platforms continued to sprout out of the digital woodwork. Everywhere you turned, someone was sending you a friend request or secret invitation to some super cool new platform where you had to create a profile and offer up a bunch of personal information. Rather than experiencing life with my friends and family first-hand, I would experience it late night from the comfort of my bed and Blackberry screen (hey, it was a long time ago).

The Unplugged Project is Born

Sometime around 2010, I started an ambitious project called the “Unplugged Project.” It was a project designed to critique our digital habits and discover ways to reverse the trend of “constantly on.” We held “Unplugged Lunches” where strangers met each other without the help of their cell phones and digital devices to keep them isolated from the group. I challenged my friends to take digital sabbaticals, but it was hard to get people to commit.

I’m afraid to say thing have gotten worse since then, which is the reason why I am re-launching the Unplugged Project. This time, it will be more of a formal pledge where for 365 days I challenge each of you to do at least one unplugged activity each day. Sometimes I will issue direct challenges, while other times it will be up to you to create your own detox program.

Re-Unplugging for 2017

I’m in the early phases of establishing the programs and challenges, with an ultimate goal of launching on April 1, 2017 (no joke). If you’re interested in staying connected with the program and being notified when we launch, go to unplug.pro and sign up.

The project will feature:

  1. Daily Challenges to Unplug
  2. Family Activities and Challenges
  3. Office and Teamwork Building Exercises
  4. Mental Health and Mindfulness Projects
  5. Community

I’m excited to finally revive what I think is an important thing for my life, but also for many of the rest of you.


Michael Kraabel

The Unplugged Project