The new trend is shutting down and escaping the always-on lifestyle, even if just for an hour.
Constant connectivity is hurting our mental, physical, and emotional health. This is probably why the new trend in digital is detoxing. All over the world, from Asia to Europe, and now just a little bit in the US of A, people are starting to see that being hunched over like Quasi-Modo and only virtually interacting with other people, devices, or Pokémon (yikes), is probably not the best way to live a full life.
Asia seems to be the area hardest hit with the maladies of technology- as we probably all already knew. With a suicide epidemic, video-game related violence, and health disorders (an actual clinical disorder is internet addiction) caused by too much connectivity, people in Asia are at least beginning to figure out what exactly is the source of all evils.
However, the whole “digital detox retreat” idea is something aimed more at burned-out Europeans that want to disconnect completely on far-away islands in Myanmar and Vietnam, than something meant for stressed-out Asian natives. In Asia, the hardest hit sector has been teenagers. There are even detox boot camps that claim a 75% success rate: “success” meaning they reduced internet connectivity to about 6 hours a day instead of more than 14, on average.
In the UK, digital marketing agency, Greenlight, did research about the detoxing trend. They found that 53% of those surveyed wanted to step away from their devices to spend more quality time (or real, in-person time is more like it) with their family and friends, which means that the emotional side of too much connectivity is something that is starting to weigh on people’s minds. About 6% cited information overload as a source of stress and about 40% said they were sick of the constant social media updates and push notifications from their friend lists.
All of that “information overload” is causing clinical depression, lack of (or interrupted) sleep, and anxiety when mobile users can’t check their devices or can’t “share” what they are doing online.
Some companies and events are cashing-in on the need for a disconnect. In England, there is an “Unplugged festival” sponsored by a drinks brand called Innocent that offers busy city-dwellers the chance to completely disconnect from their normally chaotic world for a weekend. The festival is in its second year and continues to grow.
There is also a “naked” restaurant in London where no cell phones are permitted, all customers and staff are actually naked, the tables are lit by candles and all food is cooked over a fire. How’s that for liberation from technology?
Americans haven’t fully caught-on to the digital detox trend, but it is going to be very important to keep a little bit of balance in our world as technology keeps advancing and encroaching on our ever-shrinking personal lives.