New study: Being unconnected gives higher status

– Being offline and unconnected is a limited resource! Therefore it gives you a higher status than being connected, says Aksel Tjora, professor  in sociology at NTNU, Norways parallel to MIT.

According to Tjora technology no longer gives us an excuse not to work at all times and from anywhere. -The thin line between “being able to” and “have to” work everywhere is vanishing, he says in an interview with Aftenposten, Norways biggest newspaper.

New wireless broadband like 4G will make it even more difficult for employees to limit their work time. Work time and private time is more and more integrated. Employers are paying for smartphones and tablets. That brings work home to the coffee table, to the bedside and into your free time that was reserved for relaxation.

Professor Tjora led a research project at NTNU where 14 participants were cut off from internet for three weeks. During this time they were supposed to be totally offline without any possibilities to connect to the internet. They were also interviewed both during the experiment and after. The answers were not quite what the researchers expected.

– We anticipated them to miss being on social media, but not so. What they missed most was other practical functionalities like the possibility to check bus and train schedules, check for information on Wikipedia, book a training session at the gym and such. In fact they were quite  annoyed by this. Many of the participants said they felt a physical sickness not being able to log on whenever they wanted.

Did they miss Facebook? Not much. The withdrawal symptoms disappeared after a couple of days.

Internet is extremely habit forming and many of the participants said they felt sick not being able to connect to the internet, according to professor Tjora. Many of the participants said they would like to change their internet habits after the experiment. But after checking their status a while after the research – only one of the 14 participants had succeeded in changing habits.