On any hectic workday, a digital Sabbath can seem utopian—a day without the obligations of the connected world, both perfect and unattainable. But what if you just want a few precious minutes in a safe place where emails can’t find you?
In that case, you’ll probably love Kit Kat’s new ad campaign in Amsterdam. Nestle (which sells the candy internationally, though it’s a Hershey treat in the United States) recently built a “Free No-WiFi Zone,” in line with the slogan, “Have a break, have a Kit Kat.” The concept is simple: just a public bench and a device to fight off those pesky signals from the outside world. As the advertiser describes, the zone disrupts all wireless signals within five meters, giving people a chance to enjoy a newspaper, a book, or even a conversation with an actual human being.
The bench speaks to our simultaneous desire for, and fear of, disconnectedness. Nothing’s stopping me from switching my phone into airplane mode and proclaiming myself free of my wireless shackles, but at the same time, there’s rarely anything to enforce that decision if I make it. (There’s also the question of whether that approach even addresses the problem.)
Having a dedicated public space to impose the firewall for us is a fine idea. With the Internet even making its way onto airplanes and subways, why not build a new refuge, and one that’s accessible to everyone? The only request I have is for some free WiFi benches a few feet away—I can’t waste any time catching up on everything I missed during the break.