Welcome to digital dystopia

Imagine a world where people rarely venture outside their homes, only to purchase goods they can’t buy online.

A world where people have few face-to-face, in-the-flesh friends and relationships. Their relationships are built on pixels, chats, texts and zooms. Their vision has become so myopic they have difficulty clearly focusing on the larger-than-human world outside their homes. They literally can’t see the horizon because of their tunnel vision. 

What’s worse is these people don’t see anything wrong with the flattened, superficial reality they occupy. Anyone who encourages them to get outside or hints it might be “good for them” is heckled and ridiculed. Online, of course. 

News flash: We’re here, now. 

Time outside the house equals life success later

Unfortunately, ChatGPT did not write the above story.

Professor Scott Galloway recently spoke at the Wall Street Journal Europe CEO conference. Within days a clip from his talk was viewed 7 million times on TikTok. 

Not everyone liked it. At all. 

The crux of his opinion was that young people’s time spent outside of the house is a forward-looking indicator of their success. 

“For most uber-successful people, online activity is leverage for relationships and achievements established in person,” Galloway said. “I believe your 20s are for making money, establishing relationships, and getting in shape — finance, fellowship, and fitness.” 

Galloway is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Four, The Algebra of Happiness, Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity, and Adrift: America in 100 Charts. He’s a marketing professor at NYU, speaker, has several podcasts, a newsletter and online courses. 

Out-dated, out-of-touch and privileged

The ridicule in the TikTok comments was fierce and fascinating:

  • This is a completely out-dated mindset (♡ 43.8k)
  • Can the old guard just go away already? (♡ 57.6k)
  • Boomer mindset (♡ 57.6k)
  • These ppl are so out of touch w reality LOL like wow (♡ 2769)
  • Such a privileged perspective and not attainable in this economy (♡ 341)
  • Dude is living in the 80’s (♡ 12.3k)
  • It’s expensive to not be at home (♡ 6740)

In Galloway’s newsletter post on this backlash he outlines numerous economic trends that give rise to the belief by an entire generation – not without some reason – that they can’t afford to leave the house. 

Native Digitals are homebodies

I’ve written before about some marketers dividing the consumer world into Native Digitals – those 35 and younger — and Native Analogs – those over 35. For Native Digitals, tech and screen reality is their primary reality. For Native Analogs, tech is an add-on to the rest of life. 

Galloway’s backlash brings this disconnect into sharp relief: Not only do Native Digitals see the outdoors as foreign to their reality, they’re loath to leave home. 

Other research says humans have become an indoor species, spending 90% of our time indoors. 

Get outside in public in broad daylight

I read a lot of sci-in high school and my mind immediately jumped to imagined worlds where societal trends morph into extreme dystopias. Are we becoming a world of Innies and Outies, to borrow a colloquial term for an anatomical part? 

I had no idea that taking a daily walk, like the philosophers and Romantics, has become a privileged act. 

Do it anyway.

With thanks to subscriber and friend Scott Ellis for sharing a  chart from Galloway on Twitter that led me down this productive rabbit hole.

3 Resources for You

Prof G Media Check out more of Galloway’s work at his site. Perhaps you’ve heard of him or read one of his books? 

The Unplugged Club Editions: If you need to catch issues you missed you can find them all at this page on the website. 

Readwise Reader About to start testing this read-it-later app as part of my quest for “supportive tech” that enhances my life. I spend a lot of time reading interesting stuff in and through email that I want to corral and set aside for designated reading times instead of constantly disrupting my day.

2 Questions for You

Reflections, questions and ideas to break the digital spell.

1st Q: Think about what you just read. How is this problem showing up in your life?

2nd Q: Has the economy and inflation forced you to stay home more or cut back on outdoor time? 

Hit reply and let me know what you discovered this week. I’ll use some of your feedback in next week’s newsletter (first name only.)

Reflection Feedback

From Sara: (on Neo-Luddite movement)

Nice column, Marsha!

From Rosemary: (on Let phones be phones)

I use my phone mostly as a camera.  And secondly for messages, mostly on WhatsApp.  Very very occasionally I use it to find the way somewhere with google maps and for a few other occasional things such as translation when I am out and about.

1 Action for You

One small step to start the change.

Check the screen-time tracker on the device you use most. What do you spend the most time on? 

Hit reply, let me know how it goes and I’ll include feedback in next week’s newsletter.

Nature View

“The more you are present, the more you enjoy, and the more you connect.” – Thich Nhat Hanh