In 1994, Swedish firm HUI Research predicted that mobile phones would be therets julklapp, the most popular Christmas gift of the year that represents the time were living in and has received new interest this year. Other auspicious winners includecap (2003), poker kit (2005), and everyones favorite, pre-packed bag of groceries (2011).
Joining this long, weird lineage is this yearsrets julklapp:en lda. That means a box, for those of you who didnt do a semester studying Svenska in Gteberg. More specifically, this years winner is a box for your phone. No, not a case, but a box that makes it impossible to use your smartphone.
Youd be forgiven for thinking this selection was the manifestation of a particularly quirky Scandanavian sense of humor. On the contrary, it reflects a serious concern shared by people around the world.
Swedes are reflecting more and more on the use of their phones, and are now increasingly trying to adjust their behavior accordingly. Already today, for example, there are apps to control screen time. The phone box is a tool for the times of the day where you want to put away your phone to read a book, sleep or spend time with family instead, said HUI Research CEO Jonas Arnberg.
Now lets state the obvious: any box big enough to hold a phone is a phone box. Theres no reason your average Swede couldnt use, say, a box that previously held a certain red, aquatic-themed candy or even a blue bag from an assemble it yourself furniture retailer to limit the skrmtid (screentime) of themselves and/or their kids.
Still, if you were a well-meaning Swede who wanted to invest in a dedicated box to store your phone during screen-free time, youd have a ton of different options. A cursory search for phone box turns up a cell phone jail, a fake book-slash-Faraday cage, and even a sanitizing box. All are more expensive than any other box (or drawer or cabinet or other room or self-control) the recipient might already possess, but its the thought that counts, after all.
The mobile phone box is a worthy successor to the recycled garment, last yearsrets julklapp, chosen out of a concern for the coming climate cataclysm.
Were recycled clothes actually the most popular gift in the country? Almost certainly not. Did their selection reflect a deep level of anxiety about climate change the same way this years pick does about screen time? Definitely!
So once youve had a chuckle at the idea of a loved one unwrapping a box to find an empty box designed to cut them off from social media for a while, consider doing as the Swdes do: go for a walk and leave your phone behind.
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