Do you want to blow a teenagers mind? Simply use this statement, “I was born before the internet”. They’ll look at you as if you were the missing-link. Teenagers haven’t experienced the glorious days of dial-up and that beautiful sound your modem made as it was connecting to the ‘World Wide Web’. They’ve never had the joy of loading a page, going out for a coffee, and then returning to find that the page is still loading.
Think of it, the internet is only a twenty-something; a youngling. The groundwork was laid in the 80’s but the true birthing of the internet was in the early 90’s. Today all of this is so hard to imagine because the internet is such a major part of our day to day life. It is in our DNA. The ‘information highway’ is the road we travel every moment of our lives, and in the same way that a facial tissue has become known as a Kleenex and a slow cooker a Crock-Pot, when we research anything, we ‘Google it’. It is quite clear that the internet is taking over or has taken over. How do you know something has taken over? It is when ‘a thing’ isn’t ‘a thing’ anymore but it is ‘thee thing’. Let’s admit it, the internet is ‘thee thing’.
The Internet has taken this massive planet we live on and reduced the size. It is like we are an astronaut in outer space looking back on that small, beautiful, blue sphere we call earth.
If you have recently searched for a job or own a business, you know the internet is very important. If you are a business owner and don’t know how important the internet is, you should learn that fact right now. Twenty years ago when someone was seeking a product or service they would call a friend, consult the yellow pages, or hop in the car and go from location to location. Today, the majority of our population simply sits behind a keyboard and does research. So if you are a business without a website, there are customers who won’t find you. The internet is now an integral connection to customers, and some of it is free. Yes, you have to pay to have a website and yes, it is good to pay a knowledgeable person to keep you connected, but as far as people looking for information about your business or about you, a lot of what is out there is free. It is called ‘social media’, and if you don’t think social media is important, just watch the evening news and you will hear about the politician or celebrity who travelled into cyberspace, wrote something without thinking, and then hit ‘send’. If you don’t think social media is important, talk to the guy who uploaded the latest inspirational video. Remember when the word ‘viral’ used to mean the World Health Organization may be getting involved? Well, now when something goes viral, it is a good thing.
If you don’t believe in the internet take over, just talk to the ‘content writer’, ‘director of social media’ or ‘on-line manager’ at a company. Where businesses used to hire a call centre, mail out hundreds of flyers, or pay for print, radio or television advertising, they now tweet, blog, write on their Facebook page or post to Instagram. It is true the traditional forms of advertising still exist, and have merit, but thanks to the internet, you can actually get an instant response, and it’s in that response that a business has a chance to reply and make a personal connection. Even if an individual has a complaint or gives negative feedback on social media, a business is presented with a moment to reach out and instantly solve a problem. Other would-be customers observe this quick response and in turn become loyal to a brand. When handled properly, negative can be turned into positive.
The internet, which originally burst onto the scene as an ‘information frenzy’, has morphed into marketing, communication, dating, shopping, booking appointments, venting, ranting and exposing. The internet is now the way we access our music, movies and news. It is relatively young and still evolving but all-in-all the modern ‘information super highway’ seems to come down to one thing; connection. Isn’t that what social media is all about; connection? There are lonely people in our world who spend a vast number of their waking hours on social media and it makes sense, because humans were made to connect. You may think the internet is an impersonal connection but you can make a personal connection to that one person, who makes a connection to someone else, and that individual connects to another, and soon you have a growing network of connections. People need to connect, and for some, the internet is the only place where they will have any kind of connection. It’s the only place where they have “friends”. You may find that a sad statement but it is even more upsetting when there is no connection.
Imagine you’re out for coffee, or you’re at a business function, or you’re just out shopping, and someone approaches you and begins to talk to you as though you were lifelong friends. He looks vaguely familiar, you can’t quite place the face, but he’s talking to you as if you were lifelong friends. This person knows so much about your life, and you’re dumbfounded as to how they know you. Finally, as the conversation progresses, you discover that you said ‘yes’ to a friend request or follow. It is clear, the internet has taken over. The question is, “What will it look like in another 20 years?”