Lessons from the Digital Detox Trend
For the over-technologied – or at least those willing to admit it – have no fear, there is a plethora of people looking to help you unplug.
Digital detox retreats offer long weekends away from technology, hotels “let” you pay them to lock your phone away from your addicted eyes and hands until check out, and national no-tech days ask individuals to join together and take a break. We’ve been thinking: these retreats sound great, but why do we need to go to a faraway land or take an oath with others to detox? Why can’t we just give ourselves a few days, or even hours, off at home? Are we really that addicted?
According to Nielsen’s The Social Media Report 2012, we are. Time spent online is up 21% from last year, with mobile primarily driving this growth. Mobile web users are up a staggering 82% from last year. And recently, NOMOPHOBIA (no-mobile-phobia) joined the list for new dictionary entries. So it’s not only that we’re online more, but also that we’re connected wherever we go (and freak out if we’re not). The ability to be always connected is the gateway for digital addiction, but we wonder: is digital detox just another extreme, like being always connected? Is cold turkey really the only way to go?
We think not, and we propose this: let’s learn how to do things in moderation. And we mean that as both consumers and marketers. Digital addiction has given way to serious micro-boredom – the need to be filling every single microsecond with an activity – checking your Instagram in the elevator, writing a tweet while waiting in a line, even a quick round of Scramble from the bathroom. The bottom line is that we are all going the way of ADD as our collective ability to focus on a single thing wans. As consumers, we need to try to break the habit; to remember sometimes to just take a moment and chill. And as marketers, we have a responsibility to practice digital moderation. We have to stop talking and talking and trying to be everywhere; instead we must refine and focus and aim to be in the right place with the right message at the right moments.
Brand A with a ton of frequency will be ignored in favor of Brand B with one focused message and the right outreach. And it should be. If we want to provide value to our customers, we have to know when to talk and when to shut up; when to let them have their peaceful moment of detox. It’s better for them and better for us, and mastering that line is what will help brands win, especially as more consumers grow weary of over-connection.
So we’ll actually be taking two lessons from this trend: practicing moderation as consumers, and as marketers, helping our clients master the line of Brand B.