Press Pause This Season December 6, 2018, at 4:11 p.m.

To our Jacksonville University family:

As we approach this holiday season and a welcome break from classes, papers, meetings, and events, we have an opportunity again this year to choose how to spend our newfound free time. Many of us might default to a familiar daily regimen of staying faithfully connected to current events, friends, and family through smartphones and social media.

This season, I’d like to invite you to join my family as we rethink those behaviors in one small way. Maybe you’ll want to try it, too.

In the coming weeks, my family is pressing “pause” on all of our screens for 24 hours. Yes, 24 consecutive hours. We’ll set aside a portion of our time off this month to go completely off the grid and invest those hours much more deliberately. We expect to shift—in our own world—the sobering statistics about “constant online engagement” in our broader society, and we hope to once again celebrate genuine face-to-face expression wherever possible. As some might say, be authentic.

To be clear: I’m not crusading against online tools and social media universally. We all acknowledge that these can be useful to promote innovation and productivity. We certainly employ these tools as a University to great benefit. We offer online and hybrid courses, using the latest technology across our academic offerings. But technology is the tool, not the master. Simply, I believe in using it with restraint and thought, rather than blindly turning our time and attention over to those ever-present devices so easily each day.

Please consider joining us in giving the gift of your true presence this holiday season. Consider unplugging everything for 24 hours. I’m inviting you to make this a season of thoughtfulness, less distraction. Scribble a short note—an actual note on paper—to someone you've been meaning to thank or wish well and offer the rarest of your possessions: your thoughts.

We can also take time to ask ourselves big questions or build in some quiet time for those we love. Read, talk, exercise, visit a museum, go for a walk, hit a golf ball, head to a nearby park, ride a bike, carry around that little one who helps make the holidays so special, listen to music, or dream a bit. Create some space for yourself to think. We all need that to nourish the heart and mind.

And beyond recharging our devices and taking a break from social media, let us be encouraged to recharge ourselves over the days ahead. You may be surprised by the result.

I believe it makes us better as an institution and richer as a University family. Often, that’s when our best ideas happen—in moments of reflection. Engage with people like never before, and most of all this season, let us live and love well.

With warmest regards and wishes for a happy holiday season,

Tim Cost
Jacksonville University
Class of 1981