Unless you live in an isolated desert, Internet (when it’s not being threatened by SOPA) is around, upon, beside and with you always. Viral, guerrilla, brand, and corporate engagement strategies are conceptualized by private, governmental or non-profit entities on a daily basis. Their mission? To grab your attention as a 2.0 consumer who is more curious and informed than the typical observers from the 90’s, who were more susceptible to what TV advertising told them. You want to be involved, to be part of something, to emerge from the standardized lives of those around you.
On the internet you search terms like; ‘job’, ‘hire’, ‘buy’, ‘earn’, ‘date’, ‘sex’, ‘make love’, ‘sell’, ‘entertainment’, ‘play’.
I will bet that at least one time YOU have experienced that particular tingling sensation running down your spine, when you are about to click the fateful left-button of your mouse in the knowledge that from that Hamletic “click or not to click” choice, a series of events may trigger that may irreversibly change your life. Nowadays, your life can lie in one click.
You ponder; what would you do if you get this job, date this person, earn this money. Such a small movement of the finger.
Now pause to think for one minute on how life has changed in the last twelve years. To a time when the number one represented the millennium you were living in, and you still used to book your flight at the travel agency, play Poker at the Casino, wait seven days for the next episode of your favorite TV series, call your friends to go clubbing, buy the newspaper and do those other things you forgot you did. Some people suggest you would have given more emphasis to physical interaction and spoken words.
The web is the most powerful tool of the 21st Century, but there are some things that will never be done better on Internet: human relationships. The warmth of a hug, the scent of the person you love, the physical act of shopping with your partner, the emphatic sports discussion at a bar, the swearing of your mates for a lucky hand or a bluff, the emotions you trigger with a gift. Thus far, such moments cannot be lived online. Poetry loses its romanticism if written in chat. Emotions have to stay real, tangible. Because they can be fixed in your mind remembered for ever. External hard disks, USB keys or memory sticks do not store emotions yet.
Internet enables people across the planet to share information, make business, educate themselves, communicate their ideas, along with a million other things. But it remains a tool, a series of numbers and codes, a machine programmed by the human mind. When I check my emails, open my Twitter account, read my RSS Feeds, sign in on Skype, check-in on Foursquare, take a pic with Instagram and book something on Groupon, I feel I am spending my days (and nights) constantly connected to a global web from which I do not hide anything. The Internet (as far as data is concerned) probably knows me better than I do. Internet is my girlfriend, employer and confident.
Social Media Specialist Jeff Bullas recently listed some worldwide stunning Social Media statistics, showing the unstoppable will of users to get involved in global cyber relationships: one in every eight people on Earth is on Facebook, Twitter is growing an average of 500,000 users per day, Flickr has reached a maximum of 3000 uploads per minute, Wikipedia has now more than 91,000 contributors, 80% of American companies use social media for recruitment.
Actually, most of the 2 billions worldwide internet users that contributed in creating this data use cabled, “old” web traffic via Laptops or PCs. But now is the time of mobile connection, of the “App”, the “Smart”, the “Android” (what impressive use of psychology in the choices of products’ names).
Two days ago, I was going to work with my colleague, and while talking we noticed that all the passengers of that modern Tram in Geneva had one thing in common: the white headphones of their smartphones. It is now commonplace to be connected 24 hours a day. Common belief that if Google does not list you in the search results – then you probably do not exist. Common behavior to ask for the Facebook profile after you met for the first time. Time’s “Person of the Year” 2010 was Mark Zuckerberg. This was the same year in which the planet applauded the courage of activists in the Mexican oil spill, humanitarian workers in Haiti, Aung San Suu Kyi or Liu Xiaobo.
I hope that technology will continue to ease our lives, but also that the values that guided humanity throughout its history will not get lost amidst the glare of our digital future. Well, now that I finished writing, the fatal question is: should I click on “Send” or not? Will my life change after the publication of it? Please, tingling sensation, stop.