The Memes 2018

Boredom and Experience Seeking

“I saw my kids playing football on game consoles instead of actual fields and searching for Pokemon Go’s instead of enjoying the outdoors and wondered if this was the childhood I want them to have. Even as adults its crazy how often we stare at our devices and check social media. So earlier this earlier we established a rule in the house where we have to switch off our devices on weekends and just enjoying nature or each other’s company instead. As a result we have discovered great places for day trips and many new restaurants and cultural events in Delhi!”

- Rajat, 38 years, corporate professional, Delhi

Our brains are busier than ever before. Notifications, alerts, likes, retweets, facts and pseudo-facts rule our daily engagement. The average smartphone user spends almost four hours a day on it, tapping, typing, swiping or clicking 2617 times. And that’s just one of the screens. There are laptops, television screens, tablets, fitbits and Alexa’s to attend to. It is as if, we are on a constant need for a high from a digital screen.

A minute on the Internet today generates 3.5 million searches on Google, 1.8 millions Snaps, 4.1 million Youtube video views and 156 million emails. Our need for dopamine highs has created a more than trillion dollar economy. The big five tech giants, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft rake in $25 billion of net profit every quarter. Rather the advancement of human life, the sole purpose of technology has, as if, turned into the pursuit of delivering more and more dopamine into our system.

However, much of technology in the past decade had focused on delivering these highs through our visual senses. The boredom and superficiality created by visual-based technologies tied to digital screens is already driving a counter-trend – one that has led to a surge of interest in ever more authentic, multi-sensorial experiences. During the past year, the fastest growing part of Airbnb’s business was the ‘Experiences’ that the site allows users to offer, not the accommodation. These experiences could be a night tour of Old Delhi, a local football game in Rio, or a food tour of Tokyo – all curated by your local guide.

The search for newer, multi-sensorial experiences, for escape from urban stress, for more genuine human connection is perhaps the biggest growth market in the world today. The food service industry is seeing a similar trend play out, with quick service restaurants chains slowing down and focus going back into a more detailed and richer sensorial experience.

Blended commerce that combines online shopping, with real-world physical experiences is now all the rage – from Hema supermarket stores in China, to online players adding a bricks and mortar presence in the US. It is an acknowledgment of the how deeply the need for social connection and multi-sensory stimulation runs in our human DNA.

Expect 2018 to see the market for experiences take off, and offer a rich alternative to the isolated dopamine seeking grind of digital media.

By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices, modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed.
- Lewis Mumford, America historian and sociologist