NBS Business Networking Breakfast: Obsessive Connectivity

On 10 March we held the next in our series of breakfasts, with a presentation from our researcher, Brad McKenna, followed by our guest speaker, James Gill of marketing agency, Further. This breakfast was co-hosted by Norwich Business School and Norfolk Network

A photo of business breakfast attendees socialising

In a world of constant digital connectivity, FoMo, or ‘fear of missing out’, is a real social anxiety that is becoming increasingly common. It can cause significant stress in both our personal and professional lives and its impact was demonstrated by Dr Brad McKenna. Brad, who is Lecturer in Information Systems at Norwich Business School, presented his research on the attitudes on Gen Z and Millennials (age 21-39) to digital connectivity. 

Headshot of Brad Mckenna

Brad’s study looks at the impact on emotions of a break from digital technology, before, during and after reconnecting on their return; to better understand this relatively new fear. Some travellers experienced anxiety and negative emotions, even prior to the trip, with a mixture of frustration, worry, isolation, and anxiety, particularly for the very tech-savvy, used to using technology in their daily lives.

Image of Dr Brad Mckenna presenting to a room of people. There is a slide on the screen that shows the diagram listed below.
Diagram from Dr Brad Mckenna's presentation. It shows a flow chart from Pre-Disconnect, to Disconnect, to Re-connect. Under of these headings it has a list of emotions. Under pre-disconnect it says: Excitement, Mixed Feelings, Anxiety.
Under Disconnect it says Frustration, Anxiety, Isolation, Immediate Acceptance, Lagged Acceptance Immediate rejection. 
Under Re-connect it says Disappointed/Annoyed, Happy/Relieved, Reflection/Awareness.

During the connectivity break, the research participants’ responses varied from giving up altogether to enjoying the digital-free experience, creating more valuable moments with companions and people they met; enjoying a feeling of freedom to fully immerse themselves in the holiday experience, finding that viewing a precious moment or landscape through a screen, is not the same as just enjoying it in the moment.

So, how can we manage our own digital health? How can employers create healthy digital workplaces? Is there the potential to exploit healthy digital detox holidays by the tourist industry? These questions were raised by Brad McKenna, who tried himself to enjoy a digital detox break, but was forced by the holiday operator to use his mobile for booking confirmations and the accommodation’s computer to make a booking.

‘Digital-free travel provides an opportunity for many travellers to re-examine their relationships with technology. In my second study, published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, participants recognised the overuse of smartphones in their daily lives and valued digital-free travel as an effective way of achieving improved ‘digital health’ and a better work-life balance,’ explains Dr Brad McKenna

James Gill, Head of Content at digital marketing agency, Further, shared his thoughts on our psychological dependency on technology and the responsibilities of the marketing industry.

Head shot of James Gill from Further Digital Marketing

James explained the negative impact of social media, particularly the impact on females who, research has found, are more inclined towards sharing images in order to gain affirmation. James also highlighted some of the less ethical marketing activities which exploit the emotional fear of missing out as part of their promotional and advertising campaigns. 

James Gill presenting to a room of people. On the presentation slide it says "FOMO has always been around, but technology is taking it to anxiety inducing levels"

James’ engaging presentation took the audience on a journey from the negative impacts of constant connectivity, to how marketers can use FOMO to drive action in ethical ways. He also explored the reactions of consumers to ethical and non-ethical advertising and how people behave as a result of FOMO.

Lucy Marks from Norfolk Network introduced the speakers and engaged the audience in a lively debate. Jenny Bach of Norwich Business School also reminded the audience that they may share the research and are welcome to contact the contributors.

For more information on business engagement opportunities and future networking events, sign up to receive our monthly B2B newsletter

Contact Information:

James Gill, Further

James Gill is Head of Content at digital marketing agency, Further,



Brad McKenna

Dr Brad McKenna is Researcher and Lecturer in Information Systems at Norwich Business School




Lucy Marks, Norfolk Network


Lucy Marks is Managing Director of Norfolk Network, a vibrant business membership community. Entrepreneurs, founders/directors/employees of innovative start-ups and growing businesses come together to accelerate their growth. Membership includes free tickets to regular networking events with high calibre speakers, introductions, speaking opportunities and access to graduate level skills. Members form quality connections to find opportunities for collaboration, business development and informal mentoring. They take on new ideas and knowledge and rapidly raise their profile and reputation in the wider business community.




Jenny Bach, Norwich Business School

For information on graduate employability, events, partnerships, research and Norwich Business School programmes, including undergraduate, postgraduate, executive training and full-time and part-time MBA


01603 597957

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s