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JWT Report Finds People are Turning to the Unreal in Digital and Tech Backlash

Digital overload has sparked growth in spiritualism and magic

JWT Report Finds People are Turning to the Unreal in Digital and Tech Backlash

The latest trend report from J. Walter Thompson's Innovation Group, released this week, explores "Unreality," a new mode of truth-seeking that emphasizes magic and spirituality, the knowingly unreal, and the intangible aspects of our lives that defy big data and the ultratransparency of the web.

We live in an age of hyper-reality and transparency overload, when our private Google searches are indexed by algorithms and smartphones offer a window onto the intimate lives of millions of strangers. But what happens when we tire of all this unfiltered faux-reality? Enter Unreality.

“Consumers are adrift in a sea of user-generated content that purports to offer access to the ‘real’ world,” says Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director of the Innovation Group. “But they are increasingly aware that much of this is highly mediated and misleading. Unreality is the clear reaction to this: surreal visuals, unicorns, alternate universes and all.”


The report explores:

Magic language

Why brands are using the vocabulary of the spiritual and astrological worlds to offer enlightenment and escapism to consumers, even if the goal is selling face cream.


Post-reality imagery

Surreal imagery is emerging as a reaction to gritty user-generated reality, as otherworldly and supernatural scenarios meet a need for psychological escapism.


The new New Age

Spiritually rewarding experiences with a positive psychological and physical impact are taking the place of prayer as consumers flock to sound baths, crystals and cosmology.


Surreal porn

Virtual reality is ushering in a new erotic aesthetic that blends fantasy with surreal sci-fi, with much of it coming from the video-games graphics world.