For Some, Being on the Internet is a Luxury, So Some Brands Respond
In What Have We Lost in the Shift from Cigarettes to Smartphones?, William Davies tells us that we humans, because of smartphones, are now forced to be constantly connected to other times, places, and humans we don’t even know. This contradicts the very idea of what smoking offers to people, which is to be here, or to be able to concentrate on whatever’s before us, without thinking about others, even if there’s somebody sitting beside us.
And maybe a lot of people would agree with Bank of America’s one-year-old study saying that almost 47 percent of Americans admitted that they would not last a day without their smartphones. There’s no shame in acknowledging such an appalling truth because we are just living our time the way early people lived theirs with telegraph and daguerreotype—the technology of their respective generations.
However unbelievable it may sound, there are still people who still find this a luxury. Not all people can spend almost half of their time on smartphones browsing through someone else’s Instagram page, aimlessly scrolling through a celebrity’s Twitter account, even reading online newspapers. Not because they are poor or what, but because they are simply busy.
“[To feel extremely busy] is especially profound among working parents. As for all those time-saving gizmos, many people grumble that these bits of wizardry chew up far too much of their days, whether they are moldering in traffic, navigating robotic voice-messaging systems or scything away at e-mail—sometimes all at once,” The Economist wrote.
A study revealed that an average American spends only 7 hours a day at work while most of his/her free time would end up being spent on other tasks such as household activities, buying and purchasing, personal care, and others. This is also the reason why most Americans, as the National Sleep Foundation would say it, is not satisfied with their sleep. Humans overly think of what to do with their remaining time to an extent that “rest” gets in the way of living and enjoying life.
Most people nowadays would spend their day (and night) in the digital realm, but there are still those who wouldn’t, and couldn’t. Yet these people would not automatically belong to social media/Internet age naysayers.
We have all heard our friends lamenting on the amount of “stuff” they missed out on Facebook because they’ve been busy traveling or meeting clients. Or surely we have a friend on Instagram who’s posting frequency falls short compared with that of another who treats social media as his/her diary.
Brands have been quick to adapt.
The inception of content aggregation market is highly attributable to the growing number of busy people who love being on the Internet but simply cannot because of their priorities, such as career and family.
“In the corporate world, a ‘perennial time-scarcity problem’ afflicts executives all over the globe, and the matter has only grown more acute in recent years,” said analysts at McKinsey, an American multinational management consulting firm.
There are now mobile apps that collect all the stories from various websites so that busy consumers no longer need to find them one by one on Google. They are called “content aggregators.”
What the likes of Flipboard and Newsstand (now Apple News) are doing is very efficient and beneficial: it’s like hiring somebody who would present the consumers stuff people like, leaving them all the choices as if in a buffet table, and the only thing they need to do is “pick” and “read.”
But the problem with aggregation is that people still have to read the entire story the moment they see it on the app. Content aggregators then thought of dolling up the system. Instead of redirecting the reader to the parent site, they’ll tell them the story their own way. They now call it “curation,” because it’s like having a real curator telling readers the gist of a story because, again, they are too busy to read.
Born2Invest is one, fine example. The app, which curates business and finance stories from various authoritative sites across the Web, summarizes a news story in no more than 80 words. And unlike other news curation sites, they do it efficiently. Every story within the app remains professional, journalistic, and informative — a perfect combination of conciseness.
“Our app, Born2Invest, help solve users’ problem in getting free, quality business news in a concise and intelligible format. Our business model is specifically designed to cater to those who find news-browsing and reading on the Internet time-consuming,” said digital marketing expert and M6 Limited CEO Dom Einhorn.
It may sound like being subservient to humans’ apathy, but brands, as they always do, are just responding to the calls of society And as long as they are doing their job tastefully—in summarizing existing stories, for example—then it is fine. They are not pushing people towards illiteracy, they are just giving them what they need at the moment.
According to author William Davies, “it would be perverse to wish for a return to a 1940s society of smokestacks and cigarettes,” and “we need to defend the right to separate our lives into different times and places, some of the activity.”
And for those who want to get a respite from their hectic work-life and be connected to the world anew even for a short period of time, there’s nothing wrong in pulling out a gadget from their pocket once in a while without feeling guilty of abandoning work or abusing time.
Thanks to these curators, getting informed through pieces and vignettes of valuable, well-written information on what’s happening in the digital world without eating a lot of time is now possible.