It’s a simple experiment, but the results are astounding: take the Internet away from those addicted to it, and changes take place practically overnight, as a Mother London camera crew observed when following five so-called “digital natives” who opted to go cold turkey for a week. “Would it be reminiscent of a scene from Trainspotting?” the filmmakers wondered, given that the dopamine rush for social media and email junkies resembles that of a drug user. “Or would they regress to some kind of IRL utopia?”
The participants ranged from a connected teenager to young professionals for whom heavy web activity is part and parcel of a career, and while all of them expressed some apprehension going into the blackout, most felt instantly liberated and newly sensitive to the world around them. Their loved ones noticed the difference too—a boy mentions that his father is nicer to be around when he’s not scrolling through Twitter all the time, and a woman is praised for not checking her phone during a meal, a habit of which she had never been aware.
Toward the end of the week, some signs of strain appear: a geographic crisis results in an emergency Google Maps search that turns out to be fruitless, and a pretty sky practically begs to be shared on Instagram. Still, when the group gets together for a debriefing, they reflect that though the Internet has plenty of good points, it can be mentally exhausting to “keep up” with its perpetual, churning flux. The crucial talent, they agree, would be knowing how to sort what’s important from the static. If that’s even possible.
Photo via Mother/Vimeo