The Internet is dead.
OK, that’s clearly not true, but we tend not to talk about it much anymore.
There was a time when you could spend an entire day on your computer without going online. I remember when we first got Internet, going online was a process. Going online was a task. Because of the distance of our computer from our phone line, if I wanted to go online, I had to stretch out a long piece of phone cable, plug it into the phone jack, and then go for the dial-up modem, listen to that wonderful dial-up sound, and pray that it actually connected.
Oh, and we would announce that were going online. It was an activity. And it meant that for however long we were online, no one could call us:
“I was calling you for hours but kept getting a busy signal. Were you online?”
And we started with a few of the free services like Juno and Netzero (and perhaps a few others I can’t recall), and bumped around those until the free services were gone, and signed up for the king of the moment: AOL. Remember them?
But now, we don’t even think about it. Rarely do we declare that we are “going online.”
Why? Because we’re always online. I remember when I helped switch my parents over from dial-up to DSL I had a hard time explaining that theoretically they were “always” online, while at the same time helping them understand that just because they were always online, didn’t mean that the world was creeping back at them through their phone line, ready to steal whatever they had on the computer.
With the pervasiveness of broadband, wireless, and mobile technology, we are all “always connected.” We don’t go to the Internet, the Internet comes to us. If you’re like me, you get push notifications anytime someone interacts with you on any number of platforms, whether it’s an email, a blog comment, a tweet, something on Facebook or Instagram.
But we don’t talk about those things as much. They are just a part of our lives, seamlessly integrated into our daily activities and doings.
Back in the days of CB radios (the seventies), I would go on and talk with friends. And what did we talk about? CB Radios!
Same with the early adoption of cell phone usage. It was common to hear someone saying, “Yeah! I’m on the train! And talking to you!”
Not anymore. The fact that we’re no longer really talking about the Internet, per se, doesn’t mean it’s passe or “dead.” It just means that we don’t think about it anymore. In some ways I think that’s what happening with Facebook. Some say it’s on the way out because people don’t talk about it anymore. I don’t think that’s true; I think we don’t talk about it anymore because we use it regularly without even really thinking about it. And when I say “we” I’m talking mostly about the general public, not those of us who work in this field and get paid to think and talk about it.
Those outside of the marketing and communications world don’t obsess over these things the way some of us do.
And that’s why you’ll read blog posts ad nauseum about email being dead, or blogging, or whichever platform or technology we’re talking about here.
But the fact that we’re all online all the time is a good thing, at least for businesses and marketers looking to connect with us. It gives more opportunities for businesses to become a part of the social graph of individual users, and on their terms. More opportunities for customer service and lifestyle oriented marketing.