In Northern California last month a group of people attended a $350 nature retreat planned by the group Digital Detox. The camp forbid phones, computers, tablets, watches, mentions of work, talk about age, and real names were not to be used. Writing about the event for The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal compares this fear that technology is a toxin to the Naturalism movements of the 60s and 70s, arguing it "conjures up the same chemophobia that pervades the current whole foods movement. It says: technology is toxic and addictive, unnatural." Like the Naturalists, Digital Detoxers are less interested in changing social conditions but only want to improve their own individual lives, purging the poison through the privilege of disappearing into the woods for a few days while leaving behind the economies that made those toxins profitable in the first place. It's a reminder that under much of the fear-mongering and skepticism over the effects iPhones and Facebook, there is a selfish kind of futility of the super privileged, those most able to withdraw to the woods to find themselves for a few days, while the rest of us squeeze in 20 minutes of downtime scrolling through our phones in between jobs.
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