For those of us in the communications field or otherwise on the bleeding edge of communications, it may come as something of a surprise to learn that the rest of the world isn’t all that engaged with (or even interested in) many of the communications techniques and gadgets that so absorb us.
To underscore this point, a study published recently by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that only about one-third of the adult U.S. population finds mobile Internet communications to be particularly interesting or attractive to them. And, horror of horrors, the remaining two-thirds aren’t being pulled by mobility further into the digital world.
The Pew study categorizes information and communication technology users into different sub-groups that have been given catchy descriptive names. Five of them, labeled “digital collaborators,” “media movers,” “roving nodes,” “ambivalent networkers” and “mobile newbies” collectively make up just over one third of the population. The study combines these groups together as people who are “motivated by mobility.”
On the other hand, a clear majority of people fall into a second segment dubbed the “stationary media majority.” Sub-groups within this segment include “desktop veterans,” “drifting surfers,” the “information encumbered,” the “tech indifferent,” and those who are just simply “off the network.”
While it may be tempting to assume that the ranks of the “motivated by media” segment will continue to grow at the same rapid pace (or even faster) going forward, the Pew study throws cold water on such a notion. Indeed, it finds that the “stationary media majority” segment, far from becoming more comfortable or accepting of cell phones and other mobile devices, is actually displaying increasingly more negative attitudes about them.
Maybe it’s an understandable reaction to the relentless press of new technology for people to push back like this. And we’ve seen it before – back in the 1970s and ’80s with the high-tech/high-touch phenomenon when desktop computers were being introduced in a big way into the office environment.
People do come around eventually, of course. But it takes longer than many would expect. And it’s really too bad when some early adopters respond with impatience and exasperation. Instead, why not just chill and give the rest of the world a chance to catch up?
Even better, let them do it on their own terms and at their own pace.