The 'This digital life' study, which surveyed 7,213 people aged 18 and above across 19 countries, aimed to find out how people are handling the new realities of modern life. And the answer, apparently, is 'not too well'.
The study uncovered widespread ambivalence about the future and concern that hyperconnectivity is making people feel less connected while also weakening human-to-human bonds.
“While consumers are embracing all the new technologies and conveniences that are so much a part of the modern lifestyle, they are also wistful about those aspects of life - including simplicity, intellectuality, and strong ties to nature’s rhythms - that are slipping away," said Marianne Hurstel, vice-president at BETC Euro RSCG and global chief strategy officer at Euro RSCG Worldwide. "There is a growing sense that we need to take some time, individually and as a society, to think about the direction in which we’re moving and whether we’re going to be happy with where we end up."
Key points of the study include:
- 72 per cent worry about society’s moral decline.
- Half worry that digital technology and multitasking are impairing humans’ ability to think deeply and to concentrate on one task at a time.
- Two-thirds believe society has become too shallow, focusing on things that don’t really matter.
- Respondents worry that society is becoming intellectually lazy (58 per cent), disconnected from the natural world (69 per cent) and increasingly artifical (67 per cent).
- More than a quarter of the sample (and one-third of millennials) say social networking is making them less satisfied with their own lives.
- Four in 10 say they would be happier if they owned less stuff.
- Nearly three-quarters are moderately to extremely worried about the growing gap between rich and poor.
Interestingly, a subset of 'prosumer' respondents broadly endorsed social media and connectivity while simultaneously expressing higher dissatisfaction than 'mainstream' consumers on a number of facets, including worry about cultural homogenisation, physical and intellectual laziness, and the ability to disconnect from work.