History of the slow movement
Slow living is part of the wider slow movement which began in the 1980s in Italy. Faced with the opening of a McDonald’s in the heart of Rome, Carlo Petrini and a group of activists formed Slow Food, a movement that defends regional food traditions. The slow food movement now has supporters in over 150 countries and continues to protect gastronomic traditions, promote fair pay for producers, encourage enjoyment of good quality food and engage in activities around sustainability.
Carl Honoré, one of the most well-known authors and speakers on the slow movement, helped bring the concept of slow living into the mainstream in 2004 with the publication of his book In Praise of Slowness. Honoré explores how Slow Food sparked a broader slow living movement with ‘slow’ now being applied to other areas of life which have experienced huge acceleration, including work, parenting and leisure.
Since the book’s publication, the speed at which we live has only continued to increase, but so has the awareness of the slow living movement. Today, slow travel, slow fashion, slow fitness, slow gardening, slow interiors, slow design, slow thinking, slow news and slow working are all examples of further offshoots of the slow living movement. More and more people are acknowledging that faster isn’t always better.
How the slow movement is evolving
Slow living in the pandemic
With more people forced to slow down and simplify their lifestyles, interest in the slow movement increased during the pandemic. In fact, Google reported a 4x increase in the number of YouTube videos with ‘slow living’ in the title in 2020 vs 2019. While some of these clips depict an idyllic rural existence which is far from the reality of most, the increase in this video content demonstrated a desire to reconnect with meaningful hobbies, nature and ourselves. With more time to reflect and an unprecedented, sudden shift to remote working, many reassessed what was truly important to them.
Slow living and the rise of AI and ‘synthetic fast content’
The introduction of tools like ChatGPT is one of the most monumental shifts in our lifestyle since the formation of the internet and the development of the smartphone. The pros and cons of ‘synthetic’ content created by AI is complex, but this new content production is being likened to the fast fashion industry and the rate at which it churns out cheap, synthetic garments. In a dedicated article, we share our early thoughts on AI and ‘synthetic’ fast content. With more content (of varying levels of quality) vying for our attention, will we see a rise in slow content and a more considered, conscious consumption of media?
Slow, considered decision making around whatever we consume, be it content, food or clothing, will become even more important moving forward.