Digital detox in China? Virtually impossible thanks to WeChat

Digital detoxes have been on the rise globally over the last few years. However, in China as the country’s business culture shifts from one built on guanxi – “connections” – to the concept of renmai – “social network” – this is virtually impossible.

This is, to a large extent due to the popularity of the country’s home-grown closed network social media app, WeChat. Functioning as a type of operating system for smartphones, the platform can be used as a rolodex, mobile wallet, file transfer, e-commerce portal, media feed and an informal LinkedIn-style resource. It is also being hailed as China’s new media outlet thanks to the growing popularity of public micro-blog accounts. But as anti-social tech use is resulting in real life companions being relegated to third wheels, there is a growing awareness and concern that mobiles are now omnipresent – and it’s starting to feel intrusive.

In a visual that says it all, Ogilvy Beijing recently finished a photo series entitled “The More You Connect, The Less You Connect”.

Despite individuals becoming more aware of the detrimental cost of digital overloading, there are no signs users will decrease their online engagement in China. As the cost of labour and living continues to rapidly rise amid a slowing economy, many users remain loyally locked in with professional FOMO (fear of missing out) as the government focuses on the internet as the country’s next economic driver . How we will actually enable ourselves to switch off at this point remains a question, but it is one that requires an answer sooner rather than later.

BEYOND WECHAT: Discover how consumers use social media in China and what it means to be a “netizen” with our in-depth report.

STAY CONNECTED: Find out the latest developments in digital, technology and social media and what it will mean for your business on a daily basis. Join WGSN.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.

WGSN Insider Bulletin

Experience the leading provider of consumer foresight.

Related Stories

Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli on fashion, cinema and imagination

A.I. Aqua: WGSN X Coloro Color of 2021

SXSW 2019: Key Highlights