In a world where intricate technology like augmented and virtual reality is advancing at rapid speeds, many of us are left wondering: How can a simple fidget toy be enough to put an increasingly impatient and unimpressed generation into a massive frenzy?
The fidget spinner craze began picking up momentum in January of 2017 and peaked in May. This simple spinning toy fits comfortably between the thumb and index finger and delivers a smooth spinning motion that claims to reduce anxiety, ADHD, and a slew of other mental discomforts. While there isn’t any hard evidence proving these claims, the ‘thrill’ of the device has tons of millennials and Generation Z buying in.
It seems scientists are dedicating more time trying to figure out why the gadget has such fierce demand versus looking into its inconclusive health benefits. One theory is that the spinner is as simple as the toy itself: humans need to fidget.
Try sitting perfectly still for 10 minutes. It might only take 2 for you to tense up in the desire to pick your nails, tap your foot, shake your leg, stroke your hair, crack your knuckles, scratch your head, chew your pen cap, play with your ring – no? Just me? Think again. Fidgeting is instinctive and feels natural. It helps many of us stay focused and acts as a ritual that brings comfort. Not unlike the rest of us, millennials and Gen Z exercise this ritual, too.
So what does it mean? The way I see it, though the world might be moving toward a more intangible reality full of digital interaction and a technological indulgence, millennials still have inherent needs and wants that can’t be met with another ingenuous app, or a pair of earrings that stream Spotify. The same generation addicted to the instant gratification of the digital world has shown us its simpler side.
The fidget spinner acts as a testament that simple products and technologies are still valued. There’s still plenty of demand for the raw and physical, the tangible and held-in-your-hand, the seen-with-your-own-eye, the beautiful and shiny fidget spinner that proves simple is still in. Perhaps it’s proof that in an online, increasingly mobile world, there’s still a place for those original handheld marketing materials – flyers, posters and magazines.