I just finished my first album and I'm excited to see it blow up. I move to New York City dreaming of a career as a successful musician. When meeting music managers and agents it always ends with the same question: "How many social media followers do you have?“. My reply is "none". Over the next few months, I devote every second to building my online following. I trade my real life for a virtual one. My obsession with chasing online fame becomes overwhelming. I feel stressed and restless. As a result of this addiction I lose my girlfriend, my job and my health.
Social media - my supposed new ally - has become my worst enemy.
I wonder whether other people feel the same emptiness as me. I find myself constantly asking artists and professionals about their social media habits. Does their online success make them happy? How do they cope with the increasing pressure of promoting themselves on social media? I record these conversations on my smartphone.
None of their answers seem to help me resolve my crisis. I decide to escape to the Burning Man festival in Nevada, a city in the desert built by artists who create a culture of meaningful human connections free from judgment. Here you can understand who you truly are they say. For some people this can be a life changing experience but for me it was merely a step in the right direction.
Once back in New York, I continue to interview people and search for something more meaningful. What should be the of role social media? Is it just a cry for attention? Why are we not living in the moment any more? Are these expectations real or are we just tricked into spending more time on our screens? How are we supposed to cope with the technology pervading our lives? These questions gradually become more important to me than my success in music.
I decide to leave New York and my dream behind. I move back to my home country Switzerland.
In Switzerland my search for answers remains and so does my restlessness. I decide to give music another shot. I travel to Mongolia to shoot a music video, hoping that it will go viral. When I return home, I publish the video on YouTube but it fails to attract many viewers. I am devastated. I realize I am trapped in the spiral of virtual reality again. Depression looms over me and I stop writing music.
Vincent is a French guy who left the corporate world and lives as a nomad without a smartphone. I meet him during a 10-day silent retreat which I attend to find some peace in life. This encounter inspires me to embark on a journey around the world to find real human connection, the stillness of nature and an alternative way of life.
When returning back to Switzerland from a trip to Bhutan, I decide to put together all my experiences into a documentary film. "Searching for Contact" is born. I am healed and feel creative again. One morning I wake up and hear in the news the country is going into lockdown and the government is introducing social distancing. The only way to connect with loved ones is through the smartphone and computer. I get trapped into a virtual reality having no other choice. How ironic. Have I now lost the human touch forever?