Offline is the new luxury (7)

Time spent on your smartphone: how could you pass it more wisely? And what exactly does it do for you? Each Friday, Irene, who together with Astrid is the founder of Flow, writes about this particular issue.

Since the beginning of this century, Beate Volker, Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, has been researching how people look at their neighborhood and the relationships they have with their neighbors. In an article in the Dutch Flow Special Leven & liefde (Life & Love), she says, “Around the year 2000, it was believed that, due to the digitalization of the world, we were no longer connected to our neighborhood. The idea was: If you can Skype with the world, why would you still want anything to do with your neighborhood?”

How nice is it, therefore, that in the meantime, the opposite seems to have taken effect. Precisely because of the fact that we can follow everything from so far away, we also have the need for things that are close and real. I myself have come to notice once again and appreciate just how nice it is to have contact with those in my neighborhood. How lovely it is to be able to text the neighbor to ask if he could possibly pop over and remove the super-scary spider, or to send out an SOS app to the Neighborhood Women Group to find out if anyone fancies having a fun chat over a glass (or two) of wine when you’re feeling a bit fed up one evening. And Volker confirms this growing need for close contact: “Our research shows that, on social media, we have the most contact with those who are close-by to us. Contact with our neighbors is still very important for your well-being and all today’s digital opportunities just make that easier.” And so we have the perfect circle. Thanks to my smartphone, I have more live contact with the people around me. Sometimes, it can also be rather nice therefore to be online a lot. 😉