In an attempt to get people outside "where only the birds tweet," the town of Ely, Minn., has announced a ban on social media, going into effect on April 1, 2013.
“The only thing online here is a fish. And why would anyone need Pinterest?” Ross Petersen, Mayor of Ely, said in a statement. “We have a big bulletin board over at the grocery store for that sort of thing. Or the Twitter? We have at least 140 characters right here, living in Ely. And don’t even get me started on the kids listening to their Zunes.”
Petersen explained that the town's April Fool's Day prank is meant to raise awareness about how much time people spend online and the importance of appreciating nature and face-to-face communication.
“We’ve got a million acres of exclusive content, and hundreds of sites you can visit -- in person,” Petersen added.
Voted the “Coolest Small Town in America” by readers of Budget Travel, Ely is known for its small-town ambiance, local art scene and miles of beautiful lakes and forests.
All residents and visitors in the Northern Minnesota town will be asked to refrain from social media use starting on the first of April. The "ban" may eventually extend to all electronic device usage in and around Ely, according to the statement, as a way to encourage people to look up from their gadgets and enjoy nature.
"Ely prides itself on being a place to get away form the hustle and bustle of everyday life," Linda Fryer, administrative director of the Ely Chamber of Commerce, told the Huffington Post. "We try to look at ourselves as a way to reconnect with family and friends, and have those face-to-face conversations."
The ban may be in jest, but the April Fools' prank stems from real issues, like the importance of unplugging. Spending too much time using technology can result in negative health impacts including higher stress levels, disrupted sleep, decreased productivity and poor posture. Last month, thousands of Americans turned off their phones and took a brief hiatus from social media for the National Day of Unplugging.
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