Levi Felix, a former tech worker who advocated for the health benefits of occasionally disconnecting from technology, died Wednesday of a brain tumor. He was 32.
Felix, a former creative director at a tech startup who often worked 70 hours a week, co-founded Digital Detox and Camp Grounded: Summer Camp for Adults. The no-tech summer camp for grownups, whose motto is "disconnect to reconnect," challenges overstimulated people to examine what exactly they're consuming online and how often.
"We live in a world where the average person spends between 8 and 12 hours on a screen. Our campers spend an average of 13 hours based on surveys," Felix told CNET in 2014. "So when you can come and just unplug for extended periods of time, and play and create and explore, and interact with people without it being about what do you do for a living or what's your job title, that is incredible."
Campers are encouraged to put aside their phones, tablets, smartwatches and laptops for a few days at a time. This allows them to shed distractions from the outside world and zero in on the world around them.
"Are these tools really good for us?" Felix asked a CNET reporter last year. He said the rush to live in real time on the internet contributed to a culture in which people share articles and posts on social media that they haven't taken time to fully examine before passing along.
Felix deliberately filled the camp with physical versions of everyday technology in order to help overworked adults rethink their "need" for gadgets and the internet. To encourage inner reflection, Felix substituted camp cubbyholes for virtual inboxes.
Campers use a typewriter for composing messages to a giant community bulletin board where people ask questions of each other. For Felix, the board was like a big piece of art.
"It's almost like a social commentary," he said.
Levi Benjamin Felix was born July 29, 1984, in Fresno, California. He studied psychology and music at the University of California at Santa Barbara, graduating in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in psychology, according to his LinkedIn page. He was a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on the virtues of digital disconnect.
Felix married Brooke Dean, a co-founder of Digital Detox, on Oct. 30, 2016, a little more than eight months after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Felix, who lived in Oakland, California, died in Pismo Beach, California, according to The New York Times.
He is survived by his wife, Dean; his parents, Bluma and Edward Felix; his brothers, Seth and Zev; and a grandmother, Edythe Felix.
CNET's Jessica Dolcourt contributed to this report.
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