DIGITAL DETOX CAMP: VALUES AND MOTIVATIONS FOR ENGAGING IN DIGITAL DISCONNECT
Keywords:digital detox, disconnect, norms, media users
Media users increasingly express ambivalence about their own media consumption, often related to ubiquitous media technology such as the smartphone and social media. In order to understand the growing trend of disconnection as a cultural and social phenomenon, we conducted an analysis of the digital detox inspired camp for grownups, Underleir, which has been arranged in Norway annually since 2014. The main empirical material stems from a field study of the camp Underleir in 2019 where we conducted participatory observation on a four-day field trip. Online material about the camp from the inception in 2014 to the sixth installment in 2019 was also included. The framework for this analysis is media domestication theory with special attention to the concept reverse domestication. In contrast to the domestication process where new media technology is "tamed", reverse domestication implies cognitive processes and practical strategies involved when distancing from media technology. Underleir illustrates how practical, social, and normative aspects may be interwoven when media use is reversed or altered. Normatively speaking, the digital detox experience was tied to broader sets of values, including an aim for a more creative, authentic life and a quest for mental wellbeing and the ability to focus. Many participants stated that the opportunity to engage in creative activities, and to be social in a friendly setting, was just as important as the absence of media.