Alex Beattie

PhD Student in Media Studies

The Manufacture of Disconnection

Supervisors: Dr Michael Daubs & Dr Angi Buettner


With the emergence of productivity apps, internet jamming devices, and luxury feature phones, there are an increasing number of ways to disconnect from the internet using technologies. I am studying these ‘manufactures’ of disconnection to understand the cultural and social implications for how people live with digital technologies. It is my hypothesis that the manufacture of disconnection further entangles digital technologies into people's day-to-day practices, and that technologies of disconnection are being used by people as alternative modes of communication and a means to enhance self-care.

To test my hypotheses, I am interviewing the entrepreneurs, behavioural scientists, and programmers behind these technologies of disconnection. I am investigating whether the manufacture of disconnection reinforces certain ideologies (such as the ethos of productivity) into disconnective practices, legitimising some modes of disconnection (e.g. productive labour) and stigmatising others (e.g. daydreaming). Finally, as the manufacture of disconnection occurs within a wider digital economy that commodifies audience attention, I will argue that disconnection is something that people will increasingly have to pay for. To this end, I will build upon my previous assertion that in environments of ubiquitous internet access, an emerging digital divide is how people disconnect from the internet (Beattie, 2018).


Alex is a PhD candidate in the Media Studies Programme at VUW. Deleting his Facebook account over four years ago, Alex is studying the emerging economy of technologies of disconnection. Outside of academia, he speaks publically about the benefits of disconnecting from the internet and writes about technology and digital culture.