Christian Minimalism

The Right to Disconnect

It’s no secret that technology has affected how many hours we work. Previously, many folks were able to leave work and then be present for home and leisure activities. But things have changed.

In the last few decades, technology has redefined the workday from the humble “9 to 5” to an overwhelming 24/7. With increased access and connectivity comes the sense that we’re always on. We owe this continued connection to the invention of the Internet.

Emma Dittmer, “The (Short) History of Work-Life Balance and Its Effect on Our Happiness

In a world of cell phones and the internet, it has become expected that we will connect and respond instantly to work emails, messages, and phone calls– which translates to the blurring of work and life outside of work. Consequently, many of us are unable to disconnect from work and end up working much more than we should. And working too many hours can negatively affect our health.

The Global Push for Disconnecting

Interestingly, many countries have realized this issue and are starting to take legal steps to alleviate the pressure to stay connected for work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “Right to Disconnect” laws (stating that it is unlawful to contact employees after hours, sometimes with fines as deterrents) are becoming in the norm in some countries, regions, and workplaces.

France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and Belgium already have “Right to Disconnect” laws in place, and Kenya is the most recent country to propose “Right to Disconnect” legislation. Ontario, Canada and Volkswagen Germany also have similar policies and laws.

The United States and Constant Connection

Consumerism and unhealthy levels of productivity are the norm in the United States. Many employees in the U.S. are expected to be in constant contact with their workplace, affecting their ability to rest and spend time with loved ones. When one’s value is considered how much they work and produce, being connected to work all the time is great for profits, but not for the workers’ well-being.

Unsurprisingly, the “Right to Disconnect” laws are not taking root the United States, since consumer culture is rampant. There was some potential movement on a “Right to Disconnect” law in New York City, but efforts have since stalled.

Since the point of life in consumer culture is to work and produce as much as possible, so that folks can buy and consume as much as possible, so that companies can make as much money as possible– then there is no motivation to promote healthier work habits.

Yet, many countries, regions, and workplaces around the world are saying “no” to consumer culture and taking a stand for healthier workplaces through these laws.

“Right to Disconnect” and God

“Right to Disconnect” laws acknowledge that humans were not created to work 27/7, and that working too much can harm us. Rest is a necessary need, not a want.

God created us to work, but God also created us to rest.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

Exodus 20:8-11

Here, in the giving of the 10 Commandments, we see how God prioritizes rest. Even God needed rest– so it’s no surprise that we need rest, too!

God reminds us that rest is holy and sacred. God gives us the gift of Sabbath rest because we need it to live a healthy life and to connect with God and each other. Being in constant contact with work is in direct opposition to God’s sacred gift of rest.

How is God inviting you to be in less contact with work outside of work hours, in order to enjoy God’s holy and necessary gift of rest?

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Becca Ehrlich, AKA The Christian Minimalist, is striving to be a Christian minimalist in a consumer society. She currently lives in Upstate New York with her husband Will and their son Theo. You can read more about her story and how her blog came to exist by clicking the website link above.


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