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Bo Burnham: Inside
Let’s be clear, the internet isn’t going anywhere. 5 billion people use it and that number is going to keep growing. The way we use and even feel about it, however, has changed. It’s become less functional, with fewer using it to browse and search for information. Time online has hit a ceiling; be that on social media or the internet in general, a potential side-effect of growing distrust in the things we see online.
This will affect everybody. As heads turn to the metaverse, and social media platforms adjust to a post-TikTok world, our data gives us an idea of what to expect – and potentially what to do about it.
While more people spent more time online during Covid, the daily average is now almost on par with pre-pandemic figures. It’s a potential sign that we’ve reached a kind of internet saturation point, but to get a better sense of this in action, you need to look at the situation worldwide.
Even in internet growth markets, time spent isn’t increasing as it used to. In the Middle East & Africa, and Latin America, average daily time spent online has fallen by 20 minutes and 34 minutes respectively since 2021 – and this remains the case among younger audiences too.
Covid, obviously, has a part to play in this; people have less free time now, and fewer are using the internet day-to-day than they did in lockdown. But some post-Covid activities have thrived, like online gaming.
The bottom line is, the kind of bread-and-butter activity we associate with “going online” has plateaued. And at the same time, behaviors that have been foundational to the internet since its creation are changing before our eyes.
Other things like sharing opinions, keeping up with news, and generally browsing the internet are down too; actions that are still popular but are gradually becoming less important to internet users as a whole.
It’s potentially why we’re not just seeing online time plateau, but time on social too, as more consumers are taking steps to reduce their time online – a 14% increase since Q2 2020.
Our relationship with the news is particularly telling of how things have changed. Between 2017 and 2021, we observed a stark decline in the number who trusted major news publishers. In the time since, we’ve watched as consumers gradually lose interest in knowing what happens around the world, while distrust in the media among Americans keeps on rising.
We’re entering a new phase of ecommerce, driven by changes in the way we search for products.
Online identities are set to develop in the metaverse. Customizable self-expression is a must.
Despite the rising cost of living, many consumers will still be making room for “must-have” treats. What looks set to make the cut?
Consumers are overwhelmed by the world, and sustainability is at stake. The issue runs much deeper than the cost of living.