Last month, during Internet Week Europe, Mother London conducted an experiment -- No Internet Week -- in which five internet-addicted media types were deprived of their smartphone, email and any internet access for a whole week. The agency has now released this video, giving an insight into the project and its effects on participants (who included founder of Loaded magazine James Brown and fashion blogger Maria Pizzeria).
Also among the volunteers was Mother's Katie Mackay (pictured), a strategist at the agency who leads its IKEA and Diageo business. Her work has also included feminism initiatives Make Them Pay with Elle magazine, and #projectbush, both of which involved significant social media elements, and she is also a blogger, who shared her outfits every day for a year at whatkatiewore.com, a site she founded with her partner.
Here, Ms. Mackay shares five things she took away from No Internet Week.
1. Nothing urgent is ever delivered via email.
During the week, I put on an out-of-office message that said that if anything was urgent people should call me on my mobile. No one called! It definitely gave me a different perspective on email, and how people can use it to push things off their plate. Since the experiment, I've changed my habits. My phone now charges in the kitchen, not my bedroom, and I don't check work emails outside of work. I also leave my laptop in the office when I go home, and use an iPad if I want to do anything web-related.
2. Internal email should be banned and phone stacking should be made obligatory in meetings.
Even at Mother, where our culture is quite conversational, during the week I found I was spending less time sitting at my desk. I'm also more aware that when peopletake their phones into meetings, they're sometimes not really present. I've become quite "low-fi" as a result, and a real advocate of no phones in meetings.
3. The constant wondering if and then checking to see if you have a new email gives you a bad back.
One very unexpected thing I took away from the week was how using my smartphone has an impact on my physical health and wellbeing. After one day of not walking around with my phone and not hunching over it, my back felt better. At the end of the week, some people actually asked me if I'd been away, because I looked so well.
4. Nobody looks out the window on public transport any more.
One thing I really noticed is how people don't really see the world when they are on their phones. I am also amazed that more people don't get run over crossing the street while glued to their screen. Being without the internet made me realize how little time I spend alone with my own thoughts; I felt much more mindful as a result.
5. Life without social media is more socially fulfilling.
What really brought it home was my brother telling me, during a meal, that it was the first time he could remember having dinner with me recently when I hadn't been checking my phone. That made me feel awful. Now, when I go out, I tend to keep my phone on my bag. Socializing isn't all about the Instagram photo any more. I also notice when people are "zoning out" on social occasions, because they are so engrossed in their phones. I'm posting much less on social media too, although I still use Twitter and Instagram as observational tools for work. But I'm not investing so much of myself in it.
Find out more about Mother's No Internet Week at www.nointernetweek.co.
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