What is your Power to turn off to turn on as we mark Earth Hour this year.

Earth Hour celebrations in South Africa in 214 (image source wwf.org.za)
Earth Hour celebrations in South Africa in 214 (image source wwf.org.za)
Earth Hour celebrations in South Africa in 2014 (image source wwf.org.za)

A few years ago, this is not a question that we would have bothered asking. Interestingly, a lot of couples are being forced to have ‘that talk’ , not about us women always having headaches but, most of us spending too much time on our smartphones either on whatsapp, twitter, instagram or FB that we forget to communicate with our spouses thereby reducing the intimacy in our marriages.

In 2009 or thereabout, I wrote a poem called ‘Digital Hearts‘. It was a lament on how, we are becoming switched off from personal contact despite being switched on to social media and the internet. It came from a very personal place.

Accepting that my relationship with my cellphone sometimes interferes with the, sometimes few, moments I have with my husband and kids in the evening has been the hardest thing to admit. In most instances, I don’t even realize that its a problem because, I am just checking that email or the love am getting (in form of retweets) on my timeline.

Being on Social media can be addictive and can affect your marriage if not monitored and the tendency kept at bay.

House Rules
I have come to learn that the only way to deal with our over-reliance on technology is to set house rules. I have written before on the need to have gadget rules for our Kids. I think these rules will also start applying to us as adults.

If you have noted the following things about yourself and/or your spouse then its time to set those rules

a. Your phone is always in the same room with you(sitting room, bedroom, toilet, kitchen etc)

b. You instinctively switch your phone on (from sleep mode) to check for FB updates, mentions, whats app messages etc)

c. You find yourself watching TV with the phone on your hand

d. You always check your updates just before you go to sleep.

Earth Hour, A Lights off event
Earth Hour,(www.earthhour.org) which is celebrated globally every last Saturday of March, was started by World Wide Fund for Nature in 2007 as a lights-off event to raise awareness about climate change. It encourages individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.

Turn off to Turn on
Last year,Durex issued a global wake up call to couples  with #TurnOffToTurnOn, an integrated advertising campaign released in association with WWF’s Earth Hour 2014. An online commercial showed couples whose relationships are diminished by technological addiction. Turning off the lights, as well as hand held devices, is shown as the first step towards social and sexual interaction. The Durex Facebook page continued the campaign with a range of visual messages. “Escape the screen to embrace the dark. See less to feel more.”

This year, they are at it again,

The Durex Connect app offers a simple solution: it synchronises phones to sleep together, so couples can too.
The ‘Durex Connect’ app is currently available for free on Google Play Store and is compatible with Android smart phones, and will soon be out on iOS. The app provides a user-friendly way to synchronise your phone with your partner’s, so that neither can renege on the promise of dedicated, tech-free connection.  At agreed times, or by spontaneous agreement, it will simply mask your phones’ home screen, effectively putting the handsets to sleep and removing all distractions.

The app comes in the backdrop of the Durham University research, which revealed that up to 40% of people globally, delay having sex because of technology, largely smart phones and tablets. The research results were supported by an online video, released on Wednesday, 11th March , featuring couples on their emotional journey, and highlighting the serious issue that we are becoming enslaved to technology. Disturbingly, a third of the couples visiting the website admitted to interrupting sex in order to answer their phone.

I leave you with the poem I wrote and I hope it speaks to you as it does to me, now more when I wrote it.

Digital Hearts

There was a time when a mouth, eyes, ears, a touch

were the essentials in a conversation

Humans were more in touch with one another and with nature

watching, listening and touching

A sight of migrating birds meant an approaching storm,

change in seasons or looming danger.

The tree’s whispers of cool sounds soothed our minds into peace

The crackling fall of a branch and singing of birds’ music,

Made love to our souls deepening our bond with what is real.

Now instead of facing each other, we face book

Our voices have become keys that we punch on keyboards,

Our smiles and emotions have become smileys and emoticons,

Our hearts no longer constantly antagonize our lips to say “I love you”

For we simply short text our messages from our hearts and minds

long enuf 2 mean wat we r sayin but short enuf not 2 excd 160 charctrs

we no longer pour our hearts out in persuasive soothing flow of words and smitten voices

Our fingers have subjected the feelings that the lips, eyes and face could never fill in a book

To cold machines making us similar to robots with the only difference being

We sit behind actual robots.


We are baring our lives, captured moments and souls to the digital world

Strangers whom we would never invite in to our homes

Now see the bottom of our beds the insides of our loos and beneath our garments

To fantasize, masturbate and stalk our digitized selves

Like the spider web that entangles a fly to its demise

We have gotten ourselves caught up in the world web

Yet in this connected world of digital bits and bytes,

We lost our heart bits and bought into gadgets to substitute our five senses


I ask you,

Are we connecting with each other or with technology?

We are losing our human touch somewhere in the zeros and ones of this digital age.

Njeri Wangari
All rights Reserved©
Feb 2009

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