More and more people are finding themselves overwhelmed by the demands of the digital world: it’s given us access to truly breaking news, more articles than we could read in a life time, new people to banter with on social media, ways to promote businesses, share ideas and reach people on a global scale. If all that sounds exhausting, you are right. It is.
The digital world is not an easy place to be if you’re prone to distraction, for anyone needing to focus on a task (most of us!) it can be challenging. How much more could be achieved, if we all had fewer distractions?
Being connected on a global scale blurs the boundaries of a working day too, whereas before workers were content to spend 9-5 ‘on’, they are now finding their working day creeping into their time ‘off’ too. The ‘always on’ culture is not good for our health. Hands up who’s stayed up waaay later than they intended, getting sucked into reading one thing... which led them to another thing…. Yep, me too.
If there’s any doubting how much people are consumed by their devices the annual Ofcom Study into media habits, has found that adults now spend more time online than they are asleep! Children are affected too, research firm Childwise found that kids between five and 16 are spending on average six-and-a-half hours looking at screens.
People need space to think deeply, solve problems, refine opinions, process the days events; it’s surprisingly easy to get distracted by devices that have offer an endless stream to fill our thoughts. Interesting article here: the web is the enemy of deep thought.
One answer is to take a digital detox. According to digital detox specialists, Time To Log Off this is: "a temporary period of fully disconnecting from all digital devices to focus on social interaction, reduce stress, and be fully present in the world ‘offline’"
You know you need a digital detox when…
- Attention span seems to be poor
- Memory recall gone - relying too much on search engines?
- Your focus is going down - multi-tasking going up - too much flipping from device to device?
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- Not sleeping well
- You believe you spend too much time on your phone
The idea of going off-grid for a time promises escapism, detachment, a feeling of un-reality and a rest from the fast-paced digital bombardment, time to see the ‘digital noise’ for what it is. The realisation that nothing important has probably happened while you were gone is an important one. Most people unplug to some extent when they go on holiday or at weekends, but what if people could be more disciplined and do this more regularly.
How much healthier would we all feel? How much more creative?
Brands offering a digital detox
Some savvy brands have taken note and are starting to create events and experiences which provide the space and opportunity for people to ‘escape’ their digital lives in favour of more relaxing pursuits. Which in turn gives brands an opportunity to connect with them in a more meaningful way. Win-win.
This Summer drinks brand Innocent held their second ‘Un-plugged' festival, where revellers were invited to spend time doing yoga, drawing and going on silent walks. Most were burned out corporate workers who found the deep conversations they had, the most beneficial part.
Last Christmas and New Year, holiday firm Centre Parcs gave some guests a mini sleeping bag for their mobile phones, to encourage people to give it a rest for a few days when they check in. Promising idea, let's hope it gets rolled out on a wider scale.
I did the Coventry SkyRide in August, a bike ride around the Midlands city, which was closed to cars for the day. The route took in some of the city’s beautiful streets, one direction of the famous Coventry ring-road and a detour to new cultural highlight 'Fargo Village’. The content marketing experience which didn’t work on me but the digital detox part did.
Time To Log Off is a company on a mission to highlight the need for a digital detox, their site is jammed with useful facts if you want to go indepth on the topic. The idea to launch the site was prompted by it’s founder Tanya Goodin's realisation that she hadn’t read a book in 4 years.
Slow journalism champions Delayed Gratification magazine spotted a gap in the market for a publication which revisits the news “after the dust has settled to give considered analysis on the stories that mattered” because “today’s ultra-fast news cycle rates being first above being right”. Content like this has the ability to surprise people - one page maybe on Bowie, another on the Zika crisis, which stops people from only learning about things which are related to topics they are interested in - unlike on Facebook's algorithms.
Brands can tap into the digital detox trend by offering their audiences events, experiences, a movement, a product - anything that gives those moments of escapism that the 'always on' culture really needs and wants.
Written by Charlee Sully, Brand Consultant, The Usual Studio
I work across design, ideas, strategy and content, writing about branding, design, innovation and entrepreneurship. I love sushi, tea's my cuppa of choice and BBC6 music's always on. Unlike a former housemate - I do find comedy funny.