Behavioral Trends: Unplug me


Unplug Me


We are too dependent on the internet, but frequently it feels like a job just to keep up with all these chats, emails, alerts, posts and notifications. Everybody expects us to be available 24/7. We are overwhelmed! We want to be present and enjoy our offline world. We need time to process and ponder about all. We want to disconnect to reconnect.




In 2018, frequent shoppers at a mall in the city of Xi’an in northwestern China, found a part of the sidewalk labelled “path for special use of the heads-down tribe” – a Chinese term for those who spend most of their time staring down at their phone. A similar situation occurred in the southwestern city of Chongqing in 2014, where sidewalks were divided into “use your phone at your own risk” and “phone use forbidden” lanes. The emergence of these lanes is the reflection of a very real issue in China: distracted walkers make up a significant portion of the 68,000 pedestrians killed yearly in the country. If they can’t look up from their phones… it’s best that they walk safely, right?

Unplug Me - Cellphone Sidewalks in China (article)


Our current relationship with technology can be antagonistic and harmful, which has helped propel the “unplugged” mindset. The Center for Humane Technology is a non-profit organization that aims to promote a new vision of technology: one in which it is firmly supporting the well-being of humanity while helping to dismantle its most difficult problems. As long as companies don’t realign their principles back to humanity, their products will continue having a toxic impact on their audiences. The Center for Humane Technology is attempting to change the paradigms in which technologists operate, to improve the conflictive nature of current tech.

Unplug Me - Center For Humane Technology


Bagby creates products that aim to foster in-person communication and being in the present. From their namesake bag, which lets users charge their phone while keeping it away from sight and reach, to minimalist alarm clocks and “anti-phubbing” bands; their design philosophy is mindful of the present moment and allows users to focus on more pressing concerns in their lives, like lack of sleep, parenting disconnects, and procrastination. Their mission is to reduce people’s screen time while increasing their human time, celebrating humanity over technology.

Unplug Me - Bagby


The concept of what a phone is has shifted tremendously over the past few decades. What used to be a simple tool for oral communication has transformed into a major source of distraction, one that we can’t seem to find a way around. The Light Phone is a response to that – boasting minimal functions (calls, texts, directions), a matte display and a compact size, it’s been designed to return to the original perception of what a phone should be able to do. Light Phone is a phone that actually respects you.

Unplug Me - Light Phone


Cal Newport is a computer science professor at Georgetown University, and the author of six books focusing on technology and culture. His most recent book, “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life” has become a New York Times Bestseller, proposes a 30-day challenge in which no digital technology can be used in order to redesign and rebuild your relationship with technology – a way out for many screen-addicted people.

Unplug Me - Cal Newport Digital Minimalism


The original Nokia 3310 was hailed for its durability, its compactness and its simplicity. A hallmark in phone design, it has become a symbol of the 2000s and even a national icon of Finland. In 2017, Nokia launched a revised, significantly updated version of their most iconic phone, with a color LCD, 4G connectivity and – of course – a new version of the legendary Snake game. ‘Dumbphones’, as the new Nokia 3310 has been called, could be part of the solution to our vicious cycle of phone use.

Unplug Me - Nokia 3310 Dumbphone (article)


From iOS 12 onwards, Apple introduced the Screen Time feature on iPhones and iPads. Inside the devices’ settings, users can access exactly how much time they use their phone per day – including breakdowns by category and apps. Furthermore, users can set time limits for themselves, which prevent them from using an app in particular (or their entire phone) for more time than they’d like.

Unplug Me - Apple Screen Time


Adam Alter is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, who also holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University. His latest New York Times bestselling book, “Irresistible”, takes a deep dive into the addictive nature of social media and the looming behavioural epidemic that’s taking hold on society; showing how design has fostered this addiction and what to do next.

Unplug Me - Adam Alter Irresistible (article)


Digital addiction may be different in nature to substance abuse, but it is very similar in consequences. Internet and video-game abuse habits have been proven to take a toll on the mental and often physical well-being of addicts, with some people even prioritising gaming over eating. reSTART is the first certified treatment center for Internet and video-game abuse in the United States, and holds retreats, life coaching and legitimate treatment for these ultra-modern, but still toxic, addictions. Their motto: Limit your device, not your life.

Unplug Me - reSTART


We rely on our phones, tablets and computers for keeping track of what we’ve done and what needs to be done. We have endless alarms, calendar activities, notes and notifications informing us of our schedule at all hours of the day – and yet, it always feels like we’re forgetting something. Are the digital tools that we use to keep our lives in check, somehow, not foolproof? Bullet Journal is an initiative started in 2014 by Ryder Carrol as “an analog method for the digital age”, that aims to streamline the lives of its users. The journal pushes users to go back to the basics with a pen and a simple notebook, which becomes a system for keeping track of everything –yes, everything– you need to do or have done, with an elaborate system of keys, pages and daily checkups that will ensure you forget nothing.

Unplug Me - Bullet Journal


In an era of constant technological acceleration and innovation, an overabundance of screen time, information overload, tech-driven anxiety, social media everything, internet addiction, a constant sense of FOMO, selfies, and being endlessly tethered and always available, Digital Detox aims to inspire, educate and empower our collective generation to create more mindful, meaningful, and balanced lives, both online and off. Digital Detox holds experiences for going completely off-the-grid. From their original, 3-night Camp Grounded to their more recent Unplugged Nights and exhilarating Mystery Trips, their experiences are sure to leave attendants with a new outlook on their digital life, as well as a new friend or two made along the way. 

Unplug Me - Digital Detox


We may not perceive it, but our relationship with our phones has become something sacred, unbreakable and all-consuming – some may even say, toxic. How can you end things with your phone without reeling, like you would with an actual relationship? Author and science journalist Catherine Price has dedicated a book, aptly titled “How to Break Up With Your Phone”, that collects insights on how phones are affecting our daily lives in unforeseen ways, and provides a personalised plan for users who want to take back their lives from their phone’s grip.

Unplug Me - Phone Breakup Catherine Price


A skit by Comic Relief shows a modern horror story: a woman dates an apparently perfect man… Until she learns he doesn’t have social media. She and her friends then go on a quest to try to find his online identity. An interesting perspective on the role of the Internet on our relationships.

Unplug Me - Anti Social


Many of us are addicted to our smartphone. Although we often acknowledge the problem, we don’t seem to act. Can’t we just put away our phones when we have to work, study, go to a restaurant, watch a movie, read a book or have family time? We wish it was easy, but there’s always an excuse. Let’s face it: we all get too distracted. DistractaGone offers a simple solution for you and for those around you.


US photographer Eric Pickersgill has created “Removed,” a series of photos to remind us of how strange that pose actually is. In each portrait, electronic devices have been “edited out” (removed before the photo was taken, from people who’d been using them) so that people stare at their hands, or the empty space between their hands, often ignoring beautiful surroundings or opportunities for human connection. The results are a bit sad and eerie—and a reminder, perhaps, to put our phones away.

unplug me - removed


A national spotlight shone on WSP after a front-page article in the October 22, 2011 Sunday New York Times explored an apparent contradiction in Silicon Valley, the heart of new technology: why were so many high-tech executives sending their children to a school that eschews the use of computers from kindergarten through grade school? Interest in the story ran high and was quickly picked up across the USA.

unplug me - the waldorf school of the peninsula

YOXI.TV – DIGITAL ADDICTION CONTEST employs a variety of tools to conduct their experiments around creating positive social impact via innovative market solutions. They are driven by a passion for mastering the art of asking better questions in order to create better solutions. As a media-savvy organization, they synthesize their learnings into compelling narratives. As these stories unfold, a beautiful future is revealed through their deep commitment to embracing the unknowns in humanity.

unplug me - the waldorf school of the peninsula


The Sabbath Manifesto was developed in the same spirit as the Slow Movement, slow food, slow living, by a small group of artists, writers, filmmakers and media professionals who, while not particularly religious, felt a collective need to fight back against our increasingly fast-paced way of living. The idea is to take time off, deadlines and paperwork be damned. The National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – running from sunset to sunset – and starts on the first Friday in March. An adaption of our ancestors’ ritual of carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones.

unplug me - the sabbath manifesto


The world is becoming one big WiFi zone. It’s available in bars, restaurants, trains, airports, supermarkets. There’s even WiFi on Mount Everest. Result? People are constantly online. Time for a break. KitKat created a Free No-WiFi Zone. In a radius of 5 meters, they blocked all signals so people could escape e-mails, updates, tags or likes. Instead, people could enjoy a good old newspaper or a hardcover book. Some even had a real conversation.

unplug me - kitkat no wifi zone


Electronic distractions have found their way at every meal time which hinders quality time and bonding among family members and friends. The proposal from The Manhattan Fish Market? ‘Unplug’ and disconnect to reconnect with your loved ones! At least during your meal.

unplug me - the manhattan fish market



Click here to navigate our list of Behavioral Trends for value creation, full of insights and needstates, written from a post-demographic human-centered perspective by our partner Andrea Lobo.



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