Trine Syvertsen (University of Oslo, Norway)
Social media and smartphones are criticised for being addictive, destroying personal relationships, undermining productivity, and invading privacy. In this book, Trine Syvertsen explores the phenomenon of digital detox: users taking a break from digital media or adopting measures to limit smartphone and social media use. Based on studies, documents, media texts and interviews with media users, Syvertsen discusses how media industries intensify the quest for attention, how companies and governments team up to get everybody online, and how the main responsibility for managing online risks and problems are placed on the users' shoulders. She provides a rich account of how users reduce their online engagement through time-limitations, restrictions on smartphone use, productivity apps, and use of analogue media. Syvertsen shows how digital detoxing has much in common with other forms of self-help such as mindfulness, decluttering and simple living and places digital detox within a culture of self-optimisation. But digital detox is also about sustaining face-to-face conversations, better work-life-balance, a deeper connection with nature and more meaningful interpersonal relationships. With a wealth of examples, analyses and stories, Digital Detox is a valuable guide to why digital detox and disconnection has become a topic, how it is practised, what it says about the state of media industries and how people express resistance in the 21st century.