Is going offline the next big thing?
Anyone who has been paying attention to tech trends in recent years will know that the past decade has been a race towards über-connectivity. We want tech on our wrists, in our pockets, and in our eyeglass frames. Our worst nightmare is a moment when we can’t pull up a contact or access any information that we may need right away.
For many of us, this has improved our lives on the whole. We can work more flexibly and keep in touch with more people scattered across the globe seamlessly. But it also has its downsides. It means we’re expected to email out of office hours, and people consider it rude if a text message on a Sunday afternoon doesn’t go answered until Tuesday. It’s almost as though as our connectivity levels have increased, so too have the social and professional expectations put on those with smartphones and perpetual internet.
It’s possible that we’re seeing this trend reach its peak. Indeed, for a select few among the cultural elite, the trend of connectivity seems to be going in the opposite direction. Instead of having the newest iPhone or latest gadget, and building a massive following on social media, some very high profile celebrities and public figures are choosing to opt out entirely. Additionally, instead of being constantly available and responding to emails as they come in, these people boldly state they only check email once a day.
When you think about it, this is an especially bold move in the celebrity culture, as a decision to eschew Instagram and stay off Twitter means missing out on an opportunity to engage with fans and build a bigger following that may help them win movie contracts or bookings. However, this doesn’t seem to concern them. The cultural cachet—and in many ways, respect and admiration—that a celebrity or public figure gets for not opting into the online connectivity race has the potential to outweigh the social potential lost.
It’s absolutely true that a certain level of money and status is needed to do this. For example, if you have a personal assistant to check your email, it might not be that much of a disaster if you miss an important client email. In addition, if paparazzi follow you everywhere you go, it doesn’t much matter if you’re posting on Instagram or not—people are going to see your updates anyway. But nevertheless, it’s an interesting cultural trend that’s going on. Here’s a look at some high profile figures who have opted out of the connective rat race.
Anna Wintour- The fashion maven and Vogue editor can’t be seen answering her own emails—that would be tres vulgaire. However, we’re sure Wintour has plenty of assistants to pick up the slack.
Zadie Smith- The award-winning British author is known for her use of a flip phone (rather than a smartphone) and her avoidance of the internet. She has publicly stated that while writing her critically acclaimed novels, she used internet blocking software to retain her focus.
Shonda Rhimes– The creator and writer of massively popular US television shows including Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder only checks her email within strict working hours—and has a permanent ‘away’ message to that effect. If someone needs her after hours, they simply have to wait.
Brad and Angelina- The paparazzi’s favorite couple doesn’t see the need of social media. And why would they? Everything they do is documented in the news and celebrity press. It’s reported that Angelina barely knows how to turn on a computer, let alone send a tweet.
Keira Knightley- The British actress has been quoted on her aversion to technology, saying, “ ‘I hate the internet. I find it dehumanising to constantly check emails or social sites, which have become so fashionable.”
Is this a future trend? Are we likely to see more people reject technology and take their personal lives out of the spotlight? It’s certainly something to watch out for if you’re a small business that does a lot of social media marketing.
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