WELCOME TO 21 days disconnected

The Orpheus Pledge is a 21 day program designed to give you the experience of being untethered to technology - particularly feed-based social media.

We aim to provide you 'couples counseling' with social media so you can successfully decouple and redefine what you want to do with your limited time and attention.

Our name is based on based on the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus, grieving the death of his wife, Eurydice, visited the underworld and pleaded to Hades to bring her back. Hades agreed - Eurydice would follow Orpheus - on the rule that if Orpheus were to look back on his way out of the underworld, he would lose her. Just as Orpheus was heading back to earth, out of anxiety that Eurydice wasn't there, Orpheus looked back - and saw Eurydice engulfed and lost forever.

Our hope is that once you are freed of the distraction of technology, can live in more present, meaningful, and happy ways.

This is a completely free program complete with thought-provoking readings and prompts - downloadable as a PDF worksheet to revisit during the 21 day Pledge.

Are you addicted to social media?

  • Yes? _ Let's learn more about your relationship with technology.

  • Maybe? _ We often find ourselves here. Try the assessment and see if you need this.

  • No? _ Great. You may be interested in the rest of the material and are welcome to check it out. If you ever think differently you can come back.

The Pledge has 3 levels of disconnection the reader can engage in - complete, moderate or light reduction of device usage. We provide daily reading based on topics related to technology addiction, behavior change, and social media's effects on politics.

For example, people motivated by the upcoming election can choose a guide that includes additional materials for people to redeploy any excess time and bandwidth gained from the program to political activities. All materials are free of charge.


The Orpheus Pledge was developed by Niels Rosenquist and Michelle Fang. Niels is a physician-economist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Michelle is a junior at Yale University studying Ethics, Politics & Economics.

The logo and certain aspects of the design were created by Kaixi Yang, a product designer and recent graduate of Stanford University.

The Pledge documents are designed to be read and written on paper, offline. While some material is copyrighted, it is free for private use by individuals but not for resale. The website does not collect any information from readers or participants.

The material is based on a wealth of research, clinical experience, and philosophy. A number of individuals, books, and films have inspired us. For people interested in these origins, you can download a partial list of them here.


How is this different from other programs that seek to help individuals reduce their technology usage?

1) The program is not online in any meaningful way, the website consists only of the document itself
2) It is adaptable based upon the self-identified traits and needs of the particular reader

Won’t an entirely off-line program be hard with regards to adherence and completion?

The problem with app and online-based programs is that they require a person to engage with the exact technologies that are the foundation of the problem in the first place. A potentially useful metaphor would be setting an alcohol detox program in a brewery. Over time, we believe this is the only way to truly detether from technology.

How will success be determined?

Initially, the only quantitative measures of success will be number of pages read and program downloads, in additional to feedback from readers. While this limits our ability to judge the success of the program at this time, it allows us to share material in a way that builds trust as no personal data will be required.

Why launch now?

One of the biggest drivers of stress at this point in time comes from reading the news and engaging with social media. Between the election and pandemic, we have observed an acute rise in self-reports of “dread” and melancholy related to device use and social engagement.

Aren’t most successful programs of this type (AA, etc) reliant upon peer communities and support(s)?

The program outlines ways for people to participate together and share experiences through voice calls and even Zoom chats. As such, peer engagement is possible. Additionally, we will do our best to answer emails from participants when they have questions, although we will not be adding much to the main page to ensure people do not feel the need to go back online for that.

Will this be a modern day tuning out when actually people need to be aware of what is going on around them?

We believe that individuals on things like politics are as informed as they need to be to make their voting decisions. Furthermore, we believe that people will find it particularly empowering to channel the time spent on platforms reacting to the news instead towards proactive engagement, engagement that will have less negative partisanship.

What is the end goal for this?

Our hope is that this is disseminated and utilized by a cohort of people who would be willing to provide feedback to make it better, and eventually help spread the word about it in their communities.