The idea of alone time is at a premium these days, what with our increasingly 24/7 workweek, WiFi everywhere you go and a seemingly nonstop stream of social media updates. (One's not even safe from status updates in death, and some businesses like Eterni.me even offer the living "digital avatar" services that loved ones can interact with when they die.)
That's why it's not surprising that more businesses are catering to people who want to opt-out of being plugged in. Breather, an app allowing people to rent out tranquil spaces in busy cities like New York City and Montreal, has a tagline that speaks to this desire: "peace and quiet, on demand." "We're not wired to manage as much noise and stress as we have around us these days," co-founder and CEO Julien Smith said via email. "I think a lot of people have that feeling when they're finally at home, where they can go 'ahhh' and just unwind. Breather is trying to make that feeling accessible anywhere."
If hell is other people, some businesses are hoping to create an oasis for users by shielding them from their peers. Once a reason for pity, dining alone has become hip in Amsterdam thanks to the pop-up restaurant, Eenmaal, billed as "the world’s first restaurant for parties of one." The restaurant only has seating for one, no WiFi, and diners are encouraged to put their smartphones away; the pop-up has become so successful, there are plans for permanent locations and expansion abroad. Split and a number of other "antisocial network" apps turns a cellphone into the ultimate evasion tool. You can pick people you don't want to see from your various social networks and, using geodata like check-ins on Facebook, Split will not only tell you if said obnoxious person is in your area but can provide an escape route as well.
"Social networking has got to a stage where we have all realised this is just too much. We need to regain control over our lives," Split creator and co-founder Udi Dagan told The Guardian. "The virtual world and the real world—it's all a mix and it's becoming overwhelming. So we will see more and more technology that will help us reclaim our space and create the necessary separation."
The need to be alone has gotten a high-end treatment, too. Earlier this year the Atlantic stated that "the future of luxury" is in services that help "the new aristocracy away from the rabble," like Silvercar, a car rental service app available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin and Dallas airports. The company prides itself on its fleet of Audi A4s and its hands-off approach with its busy customers:
"We know you don't like to wait. ... When you walk off of the plane at DFW [and] proceed directly to your Audi A4 past the Silvercar customer suite, you don't have to talk to a Silvercar concierge unless you want to or need to. We don't think you're antisocial; we just want you to maintain your momentum."
It seems like even the ivory tower has become appified.
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