Thursday, 25 August 2011

Who Are These Disconnected People and How Do They Find Out About Important Stuff?



If you're reading this, you probably quite like the internet.

You might spend your week playing and working on it, like me. In which case, you'd be forgiven for thinking that everyone's life revolved around the quick, simple, instant communication that being online offers.

But the fact remains: despite 140,000 tweets being sent each day, and with Facebook clocking up around 750 million users to date - 50% of whom access the site every day - there's a lot of people who, when it comes to being online, just aren't that into it.

Although about ten of my good friends possess a Twitter account, only a few of them use it daily and in a way that doesn't make me want to bang my head against the keyboard and shout "For the LOVE of GOD, stop retweeting every mention of your name, cut down on the exclamation marks, that link went viral four weeks ago, and lay off the lol"

Then there's close friends of mine, whose internet usage goes no further than the odd check of a Hotmail account. And god forbid you send them something pressing that way; it'll take days for them to see it and longer - if prompted - to reply.

Parents are excused from this disconnected demographic. The other night my mum yelled from the computer room for my help, where I found her staring quizzically at a website called "404 Page not found".

"I've been trying to get tickets for this event. It says here..."
(she pointed at a magazine article)
"to go on this..."
(she pointed at an email address within the article)
"...and sign up for tickets. But every time I type it into here..."
(she pointed at the internet browser)
"...it comes up with page not found. Why won't it work?"

"Because that's an e-mail address."
"Yes. But I've typed it in and it says webpage not found."
"You're not meant to type it there. It's an e-mail address. See? It's magazine@tickets.com. Just like your email address is Mum@gmail.com. It's not a web site. It's e-mail. You need to e-mail them."
"But - oh."
"Ok?"
"Ah. Yep. Ok."

(N.b. That is a shortened version of the conversation)

Quite frankly, what with that and the time she thought the "I'm feeling lucky" button on Google was some sort of sordid search channel, the less time my mother spends online, the better.

Unbelieveably, a few friends of mine don't even have internet at home. Yeah. You heard. NO. INTERNET. CONNECTION. AT. HOME. Through choice. Why? They just "never got round to it". As someone who Googled "How many weeks in a year" today, this strikes me as something of a strange phenomenon.

Without internet, communication then falls to the good old telephone. Not being a great lover of text messages (delayed screen tapping business - give me buttons), I favour a phonecall. Then a voicemail. Or two.

And if all that fails, sometimes you just have to concede defeat: it's probably not just the internet they haven't got the time for.

It's probably, maybe, might just be...you.

10 comments:

punctuation said...

Before I emigrated to America I lived on my own for several years. My criteria for choosing an apartment was: 1. Does it have a broadband connection? 2. How fast is it? In that order.

Seriously.

To be fair I do work in such a way that my job would be pretty much impossible without a decent internet connection (especially nowadays) but it had already reached the point several years back where I would have happily chosen one place over another mainly because it had a faster connection.

Mothers and the internet - I totally feel your pain.

James said...

Yep my mother would probably do that too. No matter how many times I try to teach her about computery things it never sticks. I think as soon as some reference to a computer is made, suddenly my voice just turns to blah blah blah yada yah in her heard.

My two closest friends are complete technophobes. One doesn't have an Internet connection at home, although with a recent acquisition of an iPhone there is starting to be a glimmer of hope. They've just found eBay, and talk about it as if it's this years new thing.

The other friend does have Internet (mainly because his wife actually uses it), but fails to own a mobile phone, or check his hotmail account more than about twice a month.

Sometimes I think technophobes are that way because they feel embarrassed whenever they try to do something online. They don't really understand it, do the wrong thing and feel quite inept. Rather than admit that to themselves they slag off the new impersonal online world, and talk about the old times when people used to talk face to face etc. What and writers letters to each other? Or you know, cook food over a fire in a cave.

nuttycow said...

There is something rather refreshing about finding people who don't have a facebook account or who rely on telephone calls. At the same time, it's DEEPLY frustrating!

I imagine these are people who still have all 12 volumes of the encyclopedia britannica on their bookshelves (and don't have to google encyclopedia britannica to double check the spelling)

Leigh said...

But, but, but what do they do when they see someone in a film and they can't think what they've been in before? Surely they get imdb up straight away! Or if they're having an disagreement about something how do they settle the agrument without google? *confused face*

A little while ago girl I work with told me that she'd never bought anything online. I was genuinely horrified ("but you're young!!"). Before I buy anything in "real life" I always check how much it costs on amazon first.

Liverdrawer said...

I'm deeply tickled by the fact that my dad manages to run a small but successful engineering business without a computer. Invoices and the men's wage slips are handwritten with blue copy paper underneath, and he has a proper address book that has been going since he started in 1981 and lovely A4 ledgers for the accounts. If it ain't broke...

Blonde said...

Consider yourself lucky. My mother is an avid user of Facebook.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Punctuation - The location of my (ill-fated) flat was partly determined by the fact we could get high speed Virgin Media internet there. It was the first thing we set up, even before gas, electricity etc.

James - Similarly, my non-internet friend has just got a HTC smart phone. So she's finally got a bit of internet access. You're right, pretty sure they do feel a bit out in the dark at their tech failings. I still love a handwritten letter though, and hate it when you call someone and they text you back.

Nuttycow - Encarta FTW. A few friends of mine aren't on FB, and I have to admit often forgetting to invite them to stuff, which is one reason I refuse to give up my account. Saying that, I probably only check it about once a day. Sometimes less. It drives me mad.

Leigh - Non techies always look at me funny when, at the slightest unanswered question, I bring out my phone and happily announce "I'LL GOOGLE IT!". Why would you delay?

Liverdrawer - Oh, that's lovely and I completely agree. If it ain't broke, don't try and frustrate yourself with a computer. Like I said, parents are exempt from my criticism. Different era, all that.

Blonde - Oh, trust me, she's on Facebook. And once a week she makes a pointed comment about the fact that I don't allow her to access my full profile. "What have you got to hide?" she says. "My private life, I don't let you read my texts, it's the same thing. Did you tell your mum everything when you were my age?" I reply. "She wasn't interested" comes the guilt trip. POW.

Dad's on Twitter though.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

"I don't have an internet connection" and "I don't have a Facebook account" is the new "I don't own a TV."

fwengebola said...

Oh my god, your Mum's got the same name as my Mum.

WV 'shiny'. Squee.

James said...

"... I still love a handwritten letter though..."

Naturally handwritten letters are rather lovely in the right circumstances. But writing letters to organise a night out with someone who doesn't have a mobile or rarely checks their email is a bit much :-)

The thing that gets me is when they tell me that they don't need these new gadgets. "If people really need me they can get hold of me." Well yeh, but it means having to remember / guess when you might be near your landline. Or try various other people / locations to track them down. And what do they use when they are trying trying to get in touch with me? Oh yes they'll borrow their other half's phone and send me a text / mail or phone my mobile... because they can't be arsed to guess where I might be.

Actually it doesn't bother me that much, but it is rather funny sometimes.

 

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