Britain’s unhealthy relationship with the internet

Last week, our internet at home fell over.  It’s Monday now and it’s still not back up.  I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough.  The kids can’t watch YouTube or play on the Xbox, we’ve had to PRESS A BUTTON to control the heating rather than use the app, there has been no music or radio through the Sonos and that’s not to mention the lack of Amazon Prime TV.

I am, of course, exaggerating.  We’ve survived and it’s actually been quite nice to see my children’s faces rather than the tops of their heads as they sit mesmerised by a video of someone else playing Minecraft on YouTube.

But this did lead me to think seriously about the impact of our lives becoming more connected.  As we become more and more dependent on our online access to organise, control and monitor the important things in our lives, the real impact of losing internet will become increasingly serious.

To explore these themes, we asked a sample of 200 people how they’d feel if they lost the internet this week.  Nearly a third of internet users (28%) say they would be devastated, while a further two thirds admit they’d be irritated.  Reflecting this, a massive 94% also say that the internet plays either a big part in their lives or is crucial.

To explore this in more depth, we’ve talked to our YourVoice community members about the impact that losing internet access (albeit temporarily) may have upon them and have found that people have two distinct reactions; a feeling of panic about the loss of our method for organising our lives and controlling our worlds, often coupled with a realisation that it’s quite nice to cut our online ties and do something different.

Living without internet in today’s life is almost next to impossible! I feel like I can survive going out in my night gown in broad day light but no way without internet, that would be a like losing memory. I rely on internet for almost everything from starting my day till I sleep.                                                                                         

Female, 34-45

On a positive my flat would become much more social, I live with 6 other people and we just sit in our rooms on the Internet!!! At least if the Internet was gone we might make it to the living room to play board games!!                                               

Female, 18-34

It would seem that us Brits have a love/hate relationship with the internet; we love how it connects us to our loved ones, how it helps to organise our lives but some of us fear becoming far too dependent on it and hate the fact it becomes a sinkhole for time.

The implications of this are huge; in a world where instant gratification is the norm, we expect our ISP to solve the problems we have within a day, with 76% of us expecting the internet to be treated like our utilities and for our ISPs to provide overnight solutions.

While we know that the Internet of Things is still in its infancy right now (it was described as ‘like having two fairy liquid bottles strapped to our backs whilst we’re trying to build a jetpack’ during our Innovation Week earlier this month),  brands that are joining the ranks of those that are controlled, managed and accessed using our phones and our wifi need to ensure that the right failsafe mechanisms are in place to ensure that we can disconnect our things easily and simply.  Let’s face it, having to press a button to control our heating when the internet goes down is a whole lot better than losing control of the heating altogether.

Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcelograciolli/ via flickr.com

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About Author

Sarah Gale

Sarah has worked in research and insight for nearly 20 years and it really shows. She likes nothing more than trying to come up with new and interesting ways to provide insight into how we live our lives today. Sarah loves a challenge, is hugely tenacious and once won the MRS ‘Talent Magnet’ for young researchers. She hopes to now win the same award for old researchers.

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