The Seduction of Connectivity
In a hyper connected world where experience is the new commodity and the economy of virtual experience emerges as the most powerful concept of the digital age, FOMO may become the biggest consumer bait. After all, the moment someone switches off, he or she ceases to be a revenue stream.
Standing strong in the face of this challenge is the Fear of Missing of Out which ensures that the “offline situation” is one that neither the producer or consumer ever prefer to be in. Modern studies reveal that the extended exposure of tablets to children may be more addictive than drugs as powerful as heroin. While this may seem exaggerated, a quick moment to reflect how our perception of time alters when we are not using our devices may serve well to drive the wisdom home. While at some point in our lives, it would hardly have occurred how long we have been away from our PCs, now time away not only seems unnatural, it also feels to last longer. Not only have our attention spans adjusted to the speed of online content, in this age when our time online may be actual currency, our concept of time spent in non-usage is also often distorted. Measuring exposure in seconds is the new normal.
This would seem familiar to most of us. Ever set down your phone on a table after a quick run through of your newsfeed and felt the need to pick it up again to see what has changed almost immediately? You would not be alone, experiencing withdrawal symptoms within minutes is a common phenomenon in a society that generally suffers from low to high levels of internet addiction. So much so that FOMO is now considered a treatment worthy form of anxiety.
It is almost frightening how the changed world has crept upon us unsuspecting millennials who were born on the cusp of a time that was blurring lines through technology. We are both highly conditioned and moderately aware of how we got here, making us a delightful source of insights for the new age.
As the way people consume media and information changed and big screens morphed into small ones within our palms and fast onto ourselves (and may be within our systems soon?) so did the things that excite people into purchase. Now we seek experiences that are simultaneously highly personal and extremely shareable. And as AI and VR touch previously inconceivable advances, the need to switch off ever may become non-existent and archaic.
What might seem like a Catch 22 situation in theory is the marketer’s most favourite dilemma in application. And unlike before when one could not predict behaviour without documenting use, now expected outcomes can be revealed in coding and algorithms.
Possibly because our behaviour, or in fact, our psychology is constantly recorded, documented and studied, leading to the manufacturing of just the experiences we seek with ever minimizing chances of error and inaccuracy. While we marvel at the genius of the digital marketers we should offer some credit to our dedication to the perfect data mines we build for their disposal every second.
Leveraging the seductive power of what’s happening “NOW” every moment is made sellable, and our FOMO contributes extensively. Being away is falling behind, every second could outdate us, thus we remain connected, constantly talking, consuming, sharing, advocating and buying the ever-attractive value of the continuous, connected virtual experience.