Quiet Mode

type - trends
category - society
sector - media & technology
sector - youth
In a world full of noise, innovative features from tech and social media companies are helping consumers who crave a new kind of quiet.

Drivers: what’s happening

After the period of solitude, lower volume and Enlightened States of introspection brought on by Covid-19, society is increasing its expectations of in-person activities, from working and socialising to dating. The New York Times is even asking: ‘Where did all your Zoom friends go?’ But to some consumers, this transition to what was once normality feels overwhelming.

Many are experiencing a pandemic hangover, and with that an interest in introversion. In a noisy world, consumers are looking to turn down the volume on post-Covid expectations from family, friends, work, society and themselves. Whether online or offline, they have a deepening desire for both focus and freedom. While some consumers seek literal quiet in the physical sense, others are more interested in an attitude of quiet: peacefulness, privacy and the tools to enable personal boundaries around these.

In Brooklyn, some Gen Z teens are saying farewell to social media entirely, turning to flip phones and gathering at the Luddite Club where tech is forbidden. The latter has become their ‘bubble of serenity’, according to The New York Times. Non-digital activities can create a deeper sense of self-actualisation and purpose, according to those who believe that what was traditionally considered boring is actually cool.

This also aligns with the rise of the Soft Life movement, characterised by prioritising peace, self-care, health and wellbeing. Kim Kardashian, who once said that she’s obsessed with fame, recently posted to Instagram that she’s now entered her quiet girl era’. As the loudest influencer of the 2000s, this simple statement marks a major shift in the cultural zeitgeist. Interestingly, she’s not the one setting the trend this time. The quiet trend is trickling up from popular media conversations surrounding workplace trends, such as Quiet Quitting, Quiet Hiring and Quiet Firing – all movementshaping hybrid and remote work culture from 2020 onwards.

Harvard Business Review also recently addressed the importance of creating culture that honours quiet time. Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz, co-authors of Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise, wrote: If we want organisational cultures that honour quiet, there are a few general principles we need to apply to make the transformation. The first is that we have to deliberately talk about it; we need to have clear conversations about our expectations around constant connectivity, when it’s permissible to be offline, and when it’s acceptable to reserve spaces of uninterrupted attention.’

Now, the quiet trend is driving advances in the tech industry, including at major brands such as Apple, Instagram and Google.


Published by:

23 May 2023

Author: Gabriela Białkowska and Carly Ettinger

Image: Photography by Yelena Odintsova


Quiet the noise, Apple

Case studies: what’s new

Apple AirPods Pro

In March 2023, tech giant Apple introduced the new AirPods Pro with a range of audio innovations, including a more powerful Active Noise Cancellation featureThe launch also highlighted the Spatial Audio features that offer users an experience of personal immersion in a world of noise. The brand speaks directly to a society increasingly seeking quiet, describing the product as ‘a marvel of modern silence’ that offers consumers the ability to ‘listen in peace’. Apple also announced a seven-day audio exposure feature, alerting consumers to exceedingly loud audio while using headphones.

Instagram’s Quiet Mode

In January 2023, Instagram announced Quiet Mode, a new way to help users focus, manage their time and set boundaries with their friends and followers. The feature allows users to turn off notifications, especially while driving or studying. They will also have more ways to curate content recommended to them on their Explore page, fostering even more hyper-personalised UXOver the past few years, Instagram has also introduced functionality that allows users to disable likes and comments on posts, helping to quiet’ toxicity and bullying on the platform.

‘By reclaiming silence, we can create the conditions for reducing burnout and enhancing creative problem-solving’
Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz, co-authors of Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise

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