Global Day of Unplugging?

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February 21, 2024

Welcome to Wednesday, futurists!

We’ve not yet officially announced our first VISIONS: SUMMIT event of the year and we’re already running out of room! We’re traveling to Austin during SXSW for an evening of thought leadership, futurism, brand canon, and cultural critique. 

For this event, we’re reviewing the state of The Multiplayer Brand, with a guest list stacked so high that OSHA just tore us a new one. 

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Pictured: Hinge Phonebook, a 100-page guide to breathing the same air as another person / via

In May of 2023, the US Surgeon General shocked the world and created a brand new category of VC investing, all in the same announcement. Vivek Murthy drew attention to the “public health crisis of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in our country.”

I recall reading this announcement via a quote-tweet from a friend on Twitter, which should be self-evident of the issue at hand.

In his newest essay, cultural critic Ted Gioia drew attention to the dopamine addiction, casting aspersion on the venture capitalist industry that created the app and tech booms fueling our distraction. “The tech platforms aren’t like the Medici in Florence or… find the next Michelangelo or Mozart. They want to create a world of junkies—because they will be the dealers,” writes Gioia. “Addiction is the goal.”

“The root of the problem isn’t loneliness, it’s addiction,” said one Future Commerce subscriber with a history of twelve-step programs. “Dopamine addiction is isolating; one that might require the same types of detox methods and intentional group therapies that we’ve used to combat other acute forms of addiction, like drugs and alcohol.”

If step one is admitting you’re powerless to your addiction, step two might be doing something about it. That “first right step” solution could be awareness campaigns, such as the Global Day of Unplugging. First launched in 2009, the non-profit organization has committed itself to enabling people to connect IRL rather than URL.

“Commerce is culture,” as we like to say around these parts. So, naturally, there must be a commercial way to engage in non-commercial movements. As with other movements like Buy Nothing Day, or social media movements like No Spend January, the commerce… uh… ‘finds a way.’

Hinge, the dating app owned by the Match Group, is celebrating with Phonebook, a freely-available idea book. Annoyingly clever in its design (it’s shaped like a phone), the book supports the “one more hour” campaign, and is meant for any young adult to use on a date during their digital fast with one hundred ideas on how to spend time with a new friend and future soulmate, fostering a sense of community and belonging as they build their in-person connection. The book takes “up to four weeks to ship,” and there’s only 2,000 available.

Global Day of Unplugging begins at sundown on March 1st, and lasts through sundown on March 2nd, 2024. But no worries—if you don’t get the paperback Phonebook in time, there’s always a free PDF download.

Just remember to print it out ahead of time.

— Phillip

P.S. We need your help! Apple is changing its policies for podcast subscription, and if you haven’t listened to our award-winning podcast in the past month, you’ve likely been unsubscribed. Download our latest episode, an interview with author Kyle Chayka about his new book Filterworld, and make sure you toggle “auto download” back to on. Thank you for your constant support of Future Commerce!

Updated 2/22/24: a prior version of this article implied that Hinge is owned by Hinge's parent company is Match Group.

Sight and Sound. Diesel offers a 3-day livestream leading up to their runway show, showcasing behind-the-scenes preparations. A review of the Veja ‘General Store’ in Paris, which cleans and repairs shoes and other general merchandise.

Touch. Walmart's now a $100B eCommerce company. Guess acquires Rag & Bone, marking its first acquisition in 43 years.

Image Credit: @HuinGuillaume on X

The Palate. Stanley "restock" trend showcases “capitalism’s final boss,” an overly-accessorized Stanley Quencher 2.0. McDonald's rebrands to WcDonald's in homage to manga and anime references.

Image Credit: @burcs on X

Shopify's AI support bot reportedly told a customer to seek mental health support. Affirm flags late-night online shopping as a red flag for potential loan delinquencies. Ted Gioia’s new essay explores dopamine and its impact on society. Google Gemini reportedly has difficulty generating images of Caucasian males.

And finally… the NYPD has a dance team.

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