“Gimme A Break”

While we have the inherent culture fear of falling behind, we also become fearful of the unknown.  Throughout the years the pros and cons to new media have drafted many radical opinions.  We see the Internet as this unlimited resource.  But being unlimited, and so readily available is it too much of a good thing?  “Rather than ‘using’ it, people maybe become ‘used’ by it, (Fischer, 1992).”

Because of this Kit Kat, paired us with the city of Amsterdam to create an advertising campaign for Wi-Fi-free zones. These zones are an escape for the constant hustle and bustle of a day filled with emails, texts, tweets, Instagram, Facebook etc. According to Kit Kat, “The world is becoming one big WiFi zone. There’s even WiFi on Everest. Result? People are always connected. Time for a break.” This advertisement takes the approach of going back to basics and being disconnected.  It is a chance to talk IRL (in real life) without having #hashtags and @randomwittyname flood your every conversation. As Baym highlights in chapter 3, with a face-to-face conversation we see that the other person is engaged by their facial expressions, like smiling or by their body movements such as nodding their head to suggest that they agree and are paying attention.




Amsterdam is not the only place you will find these Wi-Fi free zones, you will even find them here in you’re own native LA.  While some believe that these zones are to keep a face-to-face dialogue, other businesses such as cafe’s are using these Wi-Fi free zones to draw more business back into their shops. Many shop owners are noticing that when the Wi-Fi is turned on so are the screens, making space unavailable for new customers that come in each hour.   I am as guilty as the next person of sitting at a cafe for 6 hours and nursing one cup of coffee, but business owners are realizing free Wi-Fi may be harming their business instead of making it more enticing.

A few place where Wi-Fi is being taken off the menu include:

– New York’s Café Grumpy doesn’t offer Wi-Fi or allow laptops in four of their five locations.

– The Literati Cafe in Brentwood unhooks during the lunchtime rush.

“The Internet is a worm hole to the outside world, and we love that people use our space for that,” Eiswerth  (Manager of Literati) said. “We are just trying to please as many people as possible and find the middle ground.”

– Nook in San Francisco’s Russian Hill district is banning Wi-Fi in the evenings and on weekends.

– August First Bakery & Cafe in Burlington Vermont bans laptops and tablets.




2 thoughts on ““Gimme A Break”

  1. d. o.

    Interesting points! However, I think we have to be careful about priveleging one form of interaction over another–namely, believing that face-to-face interaction is superior to other forms of interaction. Do you think it’s impossible for people to develop meaningful relationships outside of the “real” world? Prponents of these Free From Wi-Fi spaces seem to imply that that’s the case.

    Also, your citation of Baym made me think of this study, for some reason: http://www.wired.com/2014/02/brain-smiley-emoticon-science/.

  2. fmanto

    This is really interesting! I hadn’t heard of this marketing campaign by Kit Kat, specifically. One of the things I find interesting the most is how our use of the internet is becoming so important in various studies regarding our psychology as a society. I mean, Baym’s work is a prime example of that. We’ve always been interested in how society communicates, and the internet has just added another element to the mix. I interned at a social media company this past summer, and it was really interesting to learn about the “science” behind social media. My coworkers were constantly “connected” on the internet, and as much as I enjoyed it, I realized how draining it was to always be on my laptop throughout the day. Therefore, I always found myself kind of going on a “technology cleanse” in the evening where I didn’t touch my phone or laptop. We’ve come to this type of understanding as a society that we are always on our phones, and so we have to force ourselves to disconnect in order to really connect.

Leave a Reply