Monocolumn: Forecast 2011: The Digital Backlash Begins

In Germany all the blogging, tweeting and iPad-swiping of 2010 has led to a cultural countermovement that’s likely to grow even stronger next year. Popular writers claim that the internet and mobile phones are messing up our concentration, our productivity, our friendships – and probably even our brains.

Monocolumn- Forecast 2011- The digital backlash begins

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

In Germany all the blogging, tweeting and iPad-swiping of 2010 has led to a cultural countermovement that’s likely to grow even stronger next year. Non-fiction authors like Christoph Koch, Alex Rühle and Frank Schirrmacher have written bestselling books about a mindset tech-enthusiasts might consider luddite. These popular writers claim that the internet and mobile phones are messing up our concentration, our productivity, our friendships – and probably even our brains.

Meanwhile trendy Berlin restaurants and clubs have implemented a strict no-tech policy. New private members’ club Soho House is a popular place to do business – but visitors and members are asked to turn off their mobile phones. Lebensmittel in Mitte, a busy lunch-time restaurant, doesn’t even allow laptops on the tables. This makes immediate sense after spending time at watering holes of the so-called “digital bohemia”, like Café Sankt Oberholz, where everybody has a MacBook in front of them but no one speaks – except for customers with headsets talking into their computers.

It seems that the supposedly modern “always on” way of living turns out to be increasingly perceived as socially awkward. Car maker Volkswagen’s upcoming marketing strategy for its new convertible Eos is based on the idea of busy onliners finally pulling the plug (and driving off – unconnected and happily – into the sunset).

These publishers, restaurateurs and marketers bet on a technophobic or at least sentimental trend many Germans seem to find appealing. According to a recent study, almost two-thirds of Germans do not use the internet in a confident and natural way.

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Image by Veer.

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