A couple of weeks ago, I arrived home to a typical Gray household scene – a total ignorance of my presence except for man’s best friend, the loyal dog, who greeted me with the usual excitement and the knowing look of “ I know you’ve been working hard to provide the food that I’ll be getting soon.” The teenage children and my wife were all online, either Facebooking, illegally downloading something, or shopping.
Finally, my wife looks up from her laptop, acknowledges my existence and says “I’m booking a holiday – what would you like to do?”
“Just book a week’s break from the Web” I replied.
And so my wish was granted – a blissful week in sunny Spain…offline.
We didn’t follow any Trip Advisor suggestions, check the weather online, e-mail or social network. We just discovered by exploring, looked at the sky and talked to each other. And after a few days of online withdrawal symptoms, we were able to walk straight past tempting internet cafes and pretend we lived in the unimaginable pre-Web world.
The Gray household-at-home seems very typical when you look at UK statistics.
Home internet penetration continues to climb and now stands at 79%. This is forecast to increase to 86% by 2014.
This increase is mirrored in every demographic group. For example, home internet penetration among the over-65s is now 43%.
72% of internet users go online every day or nearly every day.
The proportion who has used a social networking site in the past 6 months is 29%; those who’ve watched TV or films: 24%; downloaded music: 42%.
This constitutes a serious addiction to online activity – a habit that is evermore pervasive. As our lives move closer to perpetual online connection there may come a time when others also realise that they have to take an offline holiday, if only to reconnect with reality for a week.
Meanwhile, I’m back at the agency with hundreds of unanswered emails and trying to think of even more creative ways to get – and keep – people online!