What does ‘going online’ actually mean. Do you still go online? Quite a question.
When we at BizBrolly began to think about a blog article for this week, we sat with a whiteboard and brainstormed on how we could make it more relatable to our audience, how can technological wiz-words be communicated to an audience that may be overwhelmed by the thought of it. Someone said, ‘let’s go online and check’ and pulled out his smartphone to pitch some ideas. That is exactly when it dawned up on me, before we talk more about technological innovations and inventions, our audience first needs to understand how their definition of ‘going online’ has evolved.
Internet has safely assumed its place in the world. A thing that once was a commodity has transpired into the underlying realms of our society to become a necessity. It is extremely essential, wholly universal and absolutely invisible. Move past the tactile wordiness of the previous sentence and look out for how Internet has been described. There was once a time, where we defined electricity with such gloat. Times indeed have changed, and so has the way we use the internet changed. Moreover, it has changed the way we now live.
Where do we draw the fine line between going online and offline? If one drives along in a car listening using satellite navigation from Google Maps, are they online or offline? How about when someone sitting at home streams movies on demand? Skip forward a few years: if I’m sleeping off in a driverless car while my smartphone screens messages and calls, do things like “offline” and “online” even make sense?
You’ll find the answer to this when you assess the situation keeping electricity in mind. Such a question is as redundant as wondering about our experiences using non-electric appliances. Electricity exists in our lives benignly, that it no longer is an option. It’s a given. Amid the global context of constantly shifting petabytes (excuse my need to reiterate internet as constantly shifting petabytes), focusing on the offline/online status is much like obsessively observing whether the lights in the house are on or off. It’s both true and largely irrelevant: a distraction from the larger question of what you are making of the network – and what it is busy making of you.
Let me in a quick demo refresh the minds of those digital natives who will not understand why the term still remains ‘going online’. Back in the early ages off the internet, perhaps 1990s, experiences the internet was more like an experience. A modem would need to be connected to a phone line that would use a dial up for the ISP which in turn connected the user to the World Wide Web. After constant beeps and bleeps, one would be able to ‘go online’ in their own homes! Oh the joys of modern technology. The computer was in this sense, online.
Two decades later, this vanished world sounds like a kind of joke. You don’t really ‘go online’ in 2016. Online is simply there, waiting for us. It’s what happens the moment you switch your devices on. It is now a default setting. The term ‘ going online now, is perhaps misleading as it merely suggests to us opting out remains an option, where is reality, our connectivity to the world, makes it almost impossible to stay out of it.
However, it is important that you remember, don’t obsess with switching off. Look to the network behind your tools, and to the social practices shaping the use: how meaningfully these connect you; what it might mean to live them more richly. Our phones may or may not be on, but the world of information in which they partake is ceaseless – and ceaselessly expanding.