Friday, 29th July 2011
As I am preparing to go on holiday to a cottage in a remote part of the West country which has no internet connection, I am torn between looking forward to a complete break and worry about missing out on news and client work. How long before I cave in and find an internet café to connect to the ‘real’ world?
It would seem that I am not alone in my sentiments. A recent study published by consumer research company Intersperience demonstrates the UK consumers’ digital dependency. In a press release announcing the publication of its Digital Selves study, Intersperience highlights our emotional dependence on technology: more than half of the 1,000 adults questioned for the survey said they felt "upset" if they had no access to an internet connection, while 40% rather worryingly felt lonely without online access. Only 23% of respondents felt liberated without an internet connection – are they the ones without iPads, Kindles and smartphones?
The research publishers found that a vast majority of participants were basically addicted to technology, with many viewing one day without access as hard as giving up smoking or drinking. For these individuals, it would seem that technology has changed from being merely convenient to being an emotional burden.
The survey also looked at whether social networking makes us engage more with people. We hear so much about the value of connecting with individuals from all over the world, but are we actually engaging with them? It was found that teenagers in particular prefer to interact online than talk in the old-fashioned way. One can’t help feeling that this can only be detrimental to developing relationships, especially as they enter the business world.
As for information professionals, particularly those of us working independently, there is no substitute for networking face-to-face. As organisations like SLA Europe point out regularly, virtual connections can only take you so far. Business relationships will only thrive when you talk to people.
I certainly hope to feel liberated rather than lonely without web access.
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