IF you've picked up a newspaper recently – or, more likely, scanned the headlines on your smartphone – you'll have come across the allegations involving one company you'd never previously heard of, Cambridge Analytica, and another which is a household name, Facebook.

The allegations involve the acquisition and exploitation of data harvested from 50 million Facebook users, how that data was used and the effect it may have had on, say, the Brexit vote or the outcome of the 2016 US election.

But even before the Cambridge Analytica scandal an appropriately slow-building coalition of neo-Luddites and techno-refuseniks was putting its collective weight behind something called Slow Tech, part of a wider Slow Movement which is starting to ask questions about how we eat, travel, work, consume culture and even raise our kids – and always with the ultimate goal of increasing health and happiness.

The Slow Movement is reckoned to have started in Italy in 1986 with protests against the opening of a McDonald's restaurant near Rome's famous Spanish Steps.

But it was In Praise Of Slow, a 2004 book by Scottish-born, Canada-raised, Edinburgh University-educated writer Carl Honore, which really put the idea into the popular consciousness and made it one of the most influential ideas of the early decades of the 21st century. So here's a guide to what it's all about, and how you can apply it to your own life.

Slow Food

Self-evidently, Slow Food is the antithesis of Fast Food as typified by companies like McDonalds. Today it's an organisation with an easily-identifiable logo (a stylised snail), a global reach and a stated aim to make food “good, clean and fair”. But it began as a way to promote local food and produce, and home cooking. In that regard, everything from the Fair Trade movement to the rise in farmers' markets to Jamie Oliver's attempts to reshape the philosophy and practice behind British school meals owe it a debt.

Slow Food Scotland is a muscular participant in the movement and in 2016 Slow Food Glasgow was launched. Among its initiatives was a campaign aimed at encouraging people to grow their own food in allotments, gardens and window boxes. There's also a Slow Fish movement, which articulates concerns over fish stocks and marine eco-systems – issues much on the minds of those Scottish Conservative MPs who represent Leave-voting coastal communities.

Slow Fashion

As with the Slow Food movement, Slow Fashion is mooted as an alternative to its speedy equivalent, taking new designer trends, re-producing cheaper versions of them very quickly, and sending them to market where their relatively low cost means they don't hang around long in people's wardrobes. A 2015 survey of 2000 British women found that most items of clothing are only worn seven times before being discarded.

Slow Fashion aims to put the brakes on all this by championing quality over quantity, promoting the idea that newness shouldn't be the defining imperative for the fashion-conscious, emphasising the need for sustainability of raw materials, and reminding us of a few homilies and home truths we seem to have forgotten. You know the kind of thing: make do and mend, cheap at half the price, a stitch in time saves you buying a new one in H&M.

As a result, consumers are increasingly being primed to ask questions about provenance, while fashion firms have had to be more transparent about who makes their clothes, where, and for how much. And, importantly, under what conditions those workers labour. Meanwhile “vintage” has replaced “second-hand” in the fashion lexicon. In the digital realm websites such as Etsy have become important marketplaces for small-scale producers.

Slow Tech

Everything about modern technology is geared to speed, and the faster the better. Many on the Slow Tech wing of the Slow Movement have no issue with the technology itself, but they seek to better integrate it into day-to-day life and particularly into family life. Author, consultant and TED Talk contributor Janell Burley Hofmann has even written a manifesto: “Slow Tech is a state of mind,” it runs, “a philosophy that bridges conscious living and authenticity with technology and family values. Slow Tech Parenting is about fostering real, personal connections and interactions in our everyday experience rather than allowing technology to dominate habits and lifestyle.”

Nokia is one mobile company which has taken note. Last year it re-issued its (supposedly) iconic Nokia 3310 model in a range of bright colours for those Slow Tech-ers who want a phone to reflect their beliefs – or who just want to be able to play Snake during their daily commute without the distraction of social media apps. The phone has 2G connectivity, so you can call and text and that's about it.

At the other end of the scale are the neo-Luddites. They're people who are alarmed at the emotional pressures and psychological effects caused by technology and who are either trying to fashion a way of living that takes them off-grid entirely.

Slow Parenting

If your kids have every waking minute of every day timetabled and scheduled then you (and they) are in need of some slow parenting. Essentially, the idea is that boredom is good for children (in fact it's a gift: it sharpens creativity), so-called “helicopter parents” who hover attentively are bad for them (self-explanatory really), and managed risk is crucial because it encourages play and physicality. That in turn encourages learning, independence and a sense of achievement and well-being, as anyone who has ever experienced a forest school will tell you. The odd weekend of digital detox, with nothing planned except getting lost in the woods with a picnic, can do wonders for the mood and the imagination. Or, if the kids are old enough, just dump them at a camp site with no phones, no cash, a tent and a couple of Pot Noodles. If they don't report you to the police, they'll have a blast.

Slow Work

The idea behind this aspect of the Slow Movement isn't necessarily to do less work, but to do better work more slowly and through that to increase productivity while also lowering stress. It sounds impossible, but its proponents argue that a few simple techniques – such as not trying to multi-task, taking breaks to talk to colleagues or to relax, and working to an achievable and realistic schedule – can bring it about.

Writing in Time magazine in 2012, business consultant Peter Bacevice bemoaned the pressures employs are under, the speed at which information comes at them and the feelings of failure that engenders. Slow Work, he argued, "urges us to punctuate our routines in ways that might initially appear to compromise productivity but actually enhance long-term creativity”.

Slow Cities

To qualify as a Slow City under the terms of the movement set up in Italy in 1999, a population centre must have fewer than 50,000 people and meet the terms of a 54 point charter. Among the main stipulations are that member cities promote quality of life, health and well-being; maintain the environment and the inherent character of their setting; and resist homogenization.

There are currently five Slow Cities in the UK, in Perth, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Aylsham, Llangollen and Mold. Italy still leads the way, though, with 75, among them Amalfi, Trevi, Penne and Bra, birthplace of Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini. But the movement is spreading slowly to all continents.

Slow Cinema/Slow TV

A movement characterised by minimal dialogue and sound and lengthy shots with fewer edits than the usual Hollywood action fare (where shots last an average of about two seconds), Slow Cinema's subject matter often involves rural life (see Le Quattro Volte, about life in a remote Italian village), aimless journeys (see Kelly Reichardt's Old Joy), or meditations on dream and memory (Pedro Costa's Horse Money). Or, in the case of Bela Tarr's two and a half hour film The Turin Horse, on getting up, eating potatoes, going back to bed, then doing it all again the next day. But at it's best it's a reminder that cinema needn't be fast-paced, frenetic, dialogue-heavy and sound-tracked by gunshots, helicopters and the screech of brakes. It can just be about an old guy tending his goats.

Dual credit for Slow TV goes to Andy Warhol – in the 1960s the pop artist shot several lengthy films of real-time events, including the five hour Sleep, which showed a man sleeping – and to Norway's public service broadcaster, NRK. In 2009, around 20 per cent of the country's population tuned in (and surely zoned out) to its Bergensbanen: Minute By Minute, a seven-hour film showing a real-time train journey between Bergen and Oslo. Since then a score of similar films have been aired and broadcasters around the world have picked up the mantle, including BBC Four, which screened an entire season of Slow TV. The most popular example was All Aboard! The Country Bus, a two-hour bus ride through the Yorkshire Dales which screened in 2016 – and pulled in more viewers than action movie The Bourne Legacy, showing on another channel.

Slow Shopping

There are two strands to this one, and the first isn't entirely commendable: it comes from the realisation on the part of retailers that the longer people spend in-store, the more they're likely to spend. And so forward-thinking chains and independents are embellishing their shops with libraries, cafes, pop-up events and even performance areas, and re-thinking how their products are presented, mostly in an attempt to maximise profit. On the plus side, it makes browsing more pleasurable.

The second strand is more philanthropic and generous, and supermarkets such as Sainsbury's are leading the way. In 2016 it became the first UK retailer to trial Slow Shopping, aimed at helping the elderly and in particular sufferers of dementia, who can find shopping difficult. Every Tuesday, for two hours, chairs were placed at the ends of aisles, elderly shoppers were met at the door, and help desks were set up. Currently only four supermarket branches have followed, and there are none in Scotland.

Slow Travel

Planes have shrunk distances to the point where they have become almost meaningless. The Slow Travel movement seeks to return some of the sense of wonder to the act of journeying, and to make us decelerate to the point where we engage with the places we travel through and, particularly, with our ultimate destinations.

Robert Louis Stevenson famously journeyed through France on four legs in the late 1870s and wrote about his experiences in Travels With A Donkey In The Cevennes. But while his book is a bible of sorts for Slow Travel aficionados, donkeys aren't practical as a mode of transport these days. Slow trains, ferries and local buses are the answer. That may limit the scope of your excursions – Florida's probably out – but the benefits, according to the tenets of Slow Travel, are worth the change in behaviour.