This digital life

TRENDAFRiCA April 29, 2013

What happens when the idea of progress doesn’t make us dream anymore? Life in this post-technology age is the subject of a benchmarking study by Havas Worldwide, which surveyed over 7000 adults in 19 countries across all the continents, including South Africa.

Key findings include:

  1. Privacy is obsolete and intimacy is a mirage as the line between public and private becomes increasingly blurred.
  2. Havas is seeing a push toward a ‘hybrid’ way of living that combines the best of the old and new – keeping current conveniences while holding fast to those traditions and values that are in danger of disappearing.
  3. The proliferation of digital technology, the faster pace of living, and the radical transformation of social mores, have left many people feeling unbalanced and anxious about what’s still to come.
  4. In developed markets, people are continuing to push back against hyperconsumption, seeking to accumulate experiences, skills, and beliefs, rather than things.

Havas explains the reason behind the study: “We are entering a new era—an age in which technology has become so thoroughly integrated into our lives that it ceases to offer meaning beyond its utilitarian functions. We continue to embrace our gizmos and gadgets—and grow ever more dependent on them—but our aspirations are focused elsewhere.

“After decades of dizzying change, we are aching to stand still for a moment, to catch our collective breath and think deeply about this new world in which we live and whether we are headed toward a future we actually wish to inhabit. Many of us hope to identify just the right blend of modernity and tradition, so that we are able to keep moving forward without sacrificing all connection to the past. We want all the fun and ease that digital technology offers, but are also seeking a return to beliefs and behaviours that centred us in simpler times.

“With each step we take toward an artificial, high-tech, digitally centred future, we reach back and pull closer objects and customs that offer comfort and help to recentre us—things that we deem more authentic, more natural, more “real” than those digital substitutes that have been created to replace them. In this way, we seek to live a hybrid existence that keeps us comfortably tethered to a world we’re not quite sure we’re ready to leave behind.”

But what happens when the idea of progress doesn’t make us dream anymore? This is the disturbing trend that Havas noted.

This is what they found:

  • 60% believe society is moving in the wrong direction.
  • A majority believe people have grown intellectually and physically lazy.
  • 52% worry that globalisation is homogenizing the world, wiping it clean of its unique cultures.
  • 69% worry we have grown too disconnected from the natural world.
  • Two thirds worry about the modern world’s loss of authenticity and the rise of artificiality.

What this reveals, believes Havas, is that the world is changing at a faster rate than many people find comfortable or desirable.

One of the main reasons for this persuasive dissatisfaction is the “digital invasion” as Havas terms it.

While 48% of respondents believe that technology will make life better, 42% say it is too soon to tell. This suggests a strong level of distrust and unease about what may be yet to come and that the unknown is a scary prospect to many people.


Source: Havas Worldwide Prosumer Report, Vol. 13, 2012


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