You turn on your computer first thing in the morning. It cranks into action. You fire up the browser. And then….nothing. No familiar home page. Instead just a “could not connect to the Internet” message. Within seconds you feel your heart pounding. A bead of sweat forms on your brow. You click ‘refresh’. And you click it again. And again. And still nothing. You give it one more shot and to your great relief, your home page finally appears in all its familiar glory. You let out an audible sigh of relief. The world is once again a happy place.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. In a recent survey by international consumer research specialist Intersperience looking at people’s emotional dependency on technology, it was discovered that, of the 1000 Brits surveyed, 53 percent feel ‘upset’ when deprived of an Internet connection, while 40 percent feel ‘lonely’ when unable to go online.
The survey asked people aged 18 and over about their digital lives, with particular attention paid to the use of the Internet and smartphones. The project, called Digital Selves, also involved challenging participants to give up tech for – get this – one whole day. One whole day? Most of us would be gibbering wrecks within an hour, let alone 24.
Indeed, giving up tech for a day was described by one participant as “like having my hand chopped off,” while another said it was “my biggest nightmare.” Many thought it would be as hard as trying to give up smoking or drinking.
It was found that of those challenged to give up tech for a day, the best many could do was merely switch their smartphone to silent mode, describing the idea of being disconnected for 24 hours as “inconceivable.” Others spent their usual online time watching TV – though they were told not to.
When unable to go online to engage in social networking or check emails, many in the survey said they felt “lonely.” Younger people in the survey found it the hardest to stay disconnected while for the over-40s it was less of a problem. Interestingly, there were some who actually relished the prospect of being told to stay away from tech for a day, with 23% saying they’d feel “free.”
Chief Executive of Intersperience Paul Hudson said of the findings: “Online and digital technology is increasingly pervasive. Our ‘Digital Selves’ research shows how just dominant a role it now assumes, influencing our friendships, the way we communicate, the fabric of our family life, our work lives, our purchasing habits and our dealings with organisations.”
Hudson continued: “The resulting stepchange in the way we engage with technology has occurred faster than many of us had anticipated. This has profound implications for society both from a personal and commercial perspective. We are about to embark on a new study looking exclusively at digital engagement in under-18s which we expect to highlight even more radical developments in the behavior and attitudes of children and teenagers.”
Ever felt upset or lonely if you’ve suddenly found yourself without your gadgets or a net connection? Hopefully it wasn’t like having your hand chopped off – or any body part, for that matter.