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Facebook Fast? Pastor calls August 25 a day of online rest

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(Read caption) Facebook Fast arrives Wednesday, August 25. Practitioners will take a 24-hour break from their digital lives.

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This Wednesday, log off and reconnect with a loved one. That's the message from pastor Kerry Shook, who preaches The Woodlands, Texas.

Mr. Shook wants his congregation to take a 24-hour break from regular online life. This "Facebook Fast," as he calls it, means no texting, no tweeting, no emailing, and no stalking friends through Facebook Places. Instead, Shook's website suggests that people try to "write a handwritten letter or card and mail it. Meet up with a friend for a face-to-face conversation.... Plan a family dinner night without the TV on and all other electronic communication devices off."

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(Business and school work are exempt from this digital abstinence.)

Shook is not a technophobe. His Facebook page updates regularly. His several promotional websites look slick. His Twitter feed has more than 3,800 followers – that's not exactly Lady Gaga levels, but he clearly uses and enjoys social networking.

"We aren't bashing technology; we're simply issuing a challenge for participants to take one day, set it aside and act intentionally in the relationships they hold dear," he writes in a Newsweek op-ed. "For one day [Wednesday, August 25] we're getting back to the basics and we're inviting everyone around the nation to do the same."

The idea of a Facebook Fast is not new. Christian blogger Anne Jackson stepped away from Twitter and Facebook for Lent in 2009. Advocacy groups have called for occasional Facebook boycotts to call attention to the company's questionable privacy standards. But few fasters bring with them a 20,000-person congregation.

So, readers, what do you think about the idea? Share your thoughts in the comments – and remember to keep it civil.


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