Over the past year, the cultural hysteria that I embodied for the digital realm has withered down to impulsive boredom. The person who was so keen to construct her environment and adjust herself for the picture perfect shot has moved on to embody the overindulgent “been there done that” persona – I even deleted snapchat permanently before the public decline of users. Not because I am intuitively bored but because I’m sickened by the participation, non-voluntarily.
I can only speak for myself when I say that my consumption of the digital world has altered itself (not necessarily has reduced), and a good demographic of “conscious” consumers around the world have found creative ways to reduce their social media consumption. Some have opted to find means in “detoxes” whereby they delete their apps for as long as a month and as little as a day.
Others have opted to be less engaged in their digital space, becoming less of consistent content generators and more so of a spontaneous sharer. As much as there are so many ways to limit time consumption on digital platforms, the one question I had to ask myself: how did we get to this point?
From my own introspection as generation millennial, it came down to the buzz and endorphins that are not easily triggered anymore – except when the Sims rolls out with a new update (how can you not fall into a virtual simulation trap that has better storylines and life than yours?).
Entertainment apps have become recluse and I’m less excited to PUBG because “sis ain’t got time for that” – I have to function as a grown, working adult. But even with the less expansive market of entertainment apps, something in most people is being actualized and attitudes are changing.
According to Global Media Insight, in 2018, the average daily spend on social media in the UAE is 2.6 hours in comparison to the year before which was averaged at 5 hours. People are consuming more messaging apps but not necessarily valuable content on their smartphones. Instead streaming platforms have increased in usage and popularity.
Since late 2017, The National has quoted a rise of 20 percent in community initiatives and yet participation in said initiatives has risen to 3 percent only. That number could have risen since.
The myth of reducing consumption is not viable. As consumers, our patterns over time changes and thus shifts, it never reduces. When product designers roll out their goods, they know that consumers should be made to look their direction and not directly be aware of the other products in the market. A recent consumer report from Forbes highlighted how this particular generation is investing their wallets in traveling rather than spending on material items – attitudes are changing.
Could this mean people in the UAE are getting bored of the digital space that is in the palm of their hands and are shifting their active participation to the real world?
However you analyze this, it is evident that the generation that flowed surgently into the digital culture has manifested a different attitude and function to their previous pattern of loaded consumption. The millennial culture of digital consumption is becoming more curated and heavily centered on content that is socially relatable to their global intersection and, let’s not forget, is informational.
Nouf AlJahdami is an Emirati creative based in Dubai. Her work expands from theoretical research to essays and art pieces of various mediums. Her prime exploration is within topics of identity, spirituality, culture and developmental politics from the Middle east and Africa for the Western world. You can find her on instagram here.