Urban Hermit

This project studies the issue of technology addiction and the subsequent subculture of urban hermits in China who over-rely on technology, and suffer from “iDisorders”. The graphic illustrations and the mobile application are the final outcome of this project. The illustrations reflect the phenomenon and their behaviors; the application aims to trigger reflection in urban hermits on their over reliance on technology by providing both individual moderation as well as a co-moderating method. It challenges the conventional notion of “connect together” with a notion of “disconnect together”.


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According to the classification statistics from my research, urban hermits who originate from Chinese first tier cities, use social networking more than all other cyber activities in their daily lives. Social networking, as shown in the model above, only requires a few cues and is asynchronous while face-to-face interaction is most synchronous and requires the highest number of cues. According to Rosen, ‘Our reliance on computers and other devices to ‘keep us connected’ may be doing psychological harm if we rely too much on them and not enough on maintaining healthy lifestyles, including face-to-face interactions that give us the needed context and cues that socialise us’ (Rosen, L. 2012, P.172 ‘iDisorder’).


To avoid being over attached to these devices, social networking activities should be moderated and nurturing core ties is a good way to achieve this. The advantage of this approach is that you can prioritise your connections and reduce the burdens significantly whilst maintaining a connection to your core ties. For example, when there are emergencies, your friends and family members can reach you via phone calls or text messages. Similarly, your old friends or colleagues may send you information via email or social networking platform, which can be read later, as they are asynchronous. Using this approach will maintain the connection with core ties and help people unplug from the social networking platform and spend quality time with conversational partners.


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