Digital life: a hybrid existence

TRENDAFRiCA April 30, 2013

Has technology and the reliance on digital products damaged privacy and our personal narratives?

Many people surveyed by Havas Worldwide in its latest Prosumer Report on our digital lives, believe that we’ve lost control over intimacy and authenticity.

Technology is seen as a primary contributor to a pace of life that 48% of respondents in 19 countries, feel is beyond their capacity and control and they complain they spend too much time working and not enough time enjoying life.

64% of the sample are concerned about always being on the go and 55% complain of moderate-to-severe technology and information overload.

The biggest question people have is how to slow their pace of life down without falling behind?

“How can we shut out our various digital distractions in order to think deeply and at length? What do we need to do to reconnect with the natural world? And how do we ensure – assuming we desire to do so – that future generations are connected to the authenticity and traditions of a simpler world that is rapidly ceasing to exist?” Havas notes.

This is where the hybrid existence comes in: lifestyles that intentionally retain treasured elements of our past while embracing the most up-to-date tools that modern world has to offer. “The further we move away from them, the more valuable natural materials, face-to-face interactions, and age-old traditions become.”

Take for example, hardwood cases for iPads and hand-tooled leather pouches for smartphones.

A big concern is that as our access to information grows by leaps and bounds, our face-to-face interaction with humans outside of our families and workplaces is becoming more limited, Havas reports.

“We are losing the traditional social structures – neighbourhoods and villages, service clubs, town centres – that used to define us and bring us together.

“There’s some irony in the fact that we are learning so much about so many things, but less about one another and that this age of hyperconnectedness is making us feel less connected.”

  • 54% of respondents worry that digital communication is weakening human-to-human bonds.
  • 65% are moderately to extremely worried about the decrease in face-to-face interaction.
  • Two thirds of the global sample worry about our lack of community and interconnectedness.

Havas reports that this sense of disconnectedness is having societal implications, as the way people behave online does not always match how they behave in the real world. Except now that “trolling” online is spilling over into real life too.

“Our study has uncovered a strong sense of ambivalence toward the future. While consumers are embracing all the new technologies and conveniences that are so much a part of the modern lifestyle, they are also wistful about those aspects of life—including simplicity, intellectuality, and strong ties to nature’s rhythms—that are slipping away. There is a growing sense that we need to take some time, individually and as a society, to think about the direction in which we’re moving and whether  we’re going to be happy with where we end up. It’s too late to change course entirely, but we may be able to tinker with those aspects of the future that are most unsettling to us,” says Marianne Hurstel, vice president, BETC Havas Worldwide and global chief strategy officer, Havas Worldwide.

Source: Havas Worldwide Prosumer Report, Vol. 13, 20112

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