Die Konterrevolution der Offliner
Ist es jetzt eigentlich cool online oder offline zu sein? Ist es cooler, viele Facebook-Freunde zu haben, oder nicht mal zu wissen, dass es Facebook gibt (oder zumindest so zu tun, als wüsste man es nicht …)? Heißt: Steckt in der Frage nach online vs. offline nicht die Sinnkrise unserer Generation? Früher war es mal einige Zeit cool, online zu sein, viele StudiVZ-Gruppen und -Freunde zu haben. Dann schlug die Stunde der „Bewussten“. Derjenigen nämlich, die sich gegen „das System“ zu wehren begannen, indem sie das Internet abstellten und ab sofort nur noch mit Einwegkameras fotografierten. Aber ist diese Bewegung nicht ebenso obsessiv, wie diejenige der Online-Junkies?
„Forgetting one’s phone causes a sort of existential crisis. Having to navigate without a maps app, eating a delicious lunch and not being able to post a photograph, having a witty thought without being able to tweet forces reflection on how different our modern lives really are. To spend a moment of boredom without a glowing screen, perhaps while waiting in line at the grocery store, can propel people into a This American Life–worthy self-exploration about how profound the experience was.
Fueled by such insights into our lost “reality,” we’ve been told to resist technological intrusions and aspire to consume less information: turn off your phones, log off social media, and learn to reconnect offline. Books like Turkle’s Alone Together, William Powers’s Hamlet’s Blackberry, and the whole Digital Sabbath movement plead with us to close the Facebook tab so we can focus on one task undistracted. We should go out into the “real” world, lift our chins, and breathe deep the wonders of the offline (which, presumably, smells of Cape Cod).
But as the proliferation of such essays and books suggests, we are far from forgetting about the offline; rather we have become obsessed with being offline more than ever before. We have never appreciated a solitary stroll, a camping trip, a face-to-face chat with friends, or even our boredom better than we do now. Nothing has contributed more to our collective appreciation for being logged off and technologically disconnected than the very technologies of connection. The ease of digital distraction has made us appreciate solitude with a new intensity. We savor being face-to-face with a small group of friends or family in one place and one time far more thanks to the digital sociality that so fluidly rearranges the rules of time and space. In short, we’ve never cherished being alone, valued introspection, and treasured information disconnection more than we do now. Never has being disconnected — even if for just a moment — felt so profound.
The current obsession with the analog, the vintage, and the retro has everything to do with this fetishization of the offline.“