February 20, 2024


We want it all and, what’s worse, sometimes we get it. Disconnecting connected has been our most recent discovery. We have achieved that in the middle of a scrolling infinite, of those that take us from a story from Instagram to another on autopilot, someone hits us with this notice labeled: “Congratulations! You have reached a digital resting point, stay as long as you want. It is the squaring of the circle and the last paradox of summer: rest inside the mobile.

On the Instagram account @sighswoon, created by Gabi Abrão (27 years old), the first digital rest points were seen (digital resting points to use the most well-known name on the internet) in 2018. The artist and creator of memes began uploading simple videos recorded with her iphone: a field of palm trees, a fine and persistent rain, a calm ocean, a waterfall of crystalline waters. Geographically ambiguous images taken with a still camera. He did not record people or objects, nor any action or story, just neutral settings designed so that anyone could feel part of the landscape in a few seconds. That sign: “Congratulations! You have reached a digital resting point! Stay as long as you like” warned of the event: you had reached an oasis, a check point in the middle of an aimless journey through content without a hierarchy that interests us little or nothing. Yours is the decision to stop.

Gabi Abrao is a Rare avis from Internet. He still keeps the illusion intact, believes that there is salvation for social networks and does not think that most users are “idiots chasing endorphins”. This is how he made it known in a viral Instagram post that she got 82,000 downloads. Notice to sailors: on Instagram, those who are able to raise the self-esteem of their troubled users also triumph, and not just those who make them feel miserable with their boats, swimming pools and high-end restaurants. Abrão is credited with creating these brief stops to interrupt an activity —the scrolling— to which we spend an average of 62 minutes a day, according to OnePlus, a Chinese device maker.

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She herself admits that her invention is a paradox. But in that apparent contradiction seems to be the reason for her success. Digital rest points recall the beauty of the outside world, but are consumed within the phone. “We create escapist art without giving up the reward of staying connected,” she said in an interview with The Washington Post.

These videos intentionally created to disrupt the scrolling in the social networks within the social networks themselves have experienced their particular boom since the war in Ukraine, and have become a new category to which more and more creators climb. They are also replicated by brands and museums. With the reels Instagram and TikTok videos provide immersive experiences, but Twitter has also created its version of momentary digital retreat with audio slots of sounds of nature, or simply with silent clips to escape the continuous anger of Twitter users. TikTok explored the terrain with CalmTok, a corner dedicated to digital relaxation. In 2020 they launched a campaign in which tiktokers most popular asked their followers to stop scroll and turn off the phone. She didn’t sit well. Disconnecting is too radical an act, the idea of ​​taking a breather within the same platform that traps us has been much better received.

These breaks in the endless road of doomscrolling (the compulsive search for negative news) arise after two years in which we have let ourselves be swept away by endless rivers of bad news. Things don’t stop happening: a pandemic, a war, and now an economic crisis. Getting hooked on current affairs gives us a false sense of control over events. “We believe that if we have all the data we can make better decisions and protect our own,” says trauma psychologist Megan E. Johnson, who believes that gorging ourselves on news and news about ourselves and strangers on platforms leads to dangerous habits. as self-contempt for social comparison bias.

Experts define the doomscrolling as “an avoidance technique to deal with anxiety”. A spiral that must be broken. And that is the mission of digital rest points, an exercise in soft power that allows you to withdraw from the loop, but without leaving completely.

A more realistic strategy than drastic digital withdrawals and fasts that fits into the theory of digital minimalism advocated by Georgetown University Cal Newport Professor of Computer Science. “Digital minimalism proposes to rebuild our digital lives according to our priorities to focus on what interests us. This positive approach is more successful than withdrawal strategies that are based on negative messages of behaviors that we must eliminate. A digital minimalist is someone who puts technology at their service and does not consume it by default, ”he defines by email.

Perhaps disconnecting without slamming the door is just a manifestation of Stockholm syndrome. Although it is not what can be inferred from the reasons given by its creators, some with powerful ideological overtones, to explain this phenomenon as a reaction to late capitalism and a manifestation of collective fatigue. Artist Bxb Love started posting her breakpoint videos earlier this year because she wanted to provide herself with moments of peace, free of information, opinions, or projects. “We are constantly being bombarded with the idea that we can never do enough, that we need or should try harder, and I wanted to share something that didn’t need to be consumed with that energy,” she said, explaining her work.

Posting a video of a static natural landscape, without action or characters, fits what many creators classify as content Not Zuckerberg friendlya small rebellion against the algorithms of the founder of Facebook (current Meta).

Gabi Abrão believes that these contents fulfill a mission that is as obvious as it is novel on the platforms we consume today: to remind us that rest is possible, that it is our choice to take a breather whenever we need it. That’s why reaching the digital rest point is designed as a reward:Congratulations! You have finally stopped.

In 2021 the writer Greta Rainbow warned in her newsletter Dirt: “On social media, leisure always subtly turns into work.” Something that may seem obvious has been a true revelation for many, who have discovered that in 2022 demanding rest is a political act, even if it is within the borders of the telephone and without violating the limits of the internet.

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