Do we ‘surf’ the Internet anymore?
Sat-navs take us exactly where we want to go, but in following the monotone directions, we’re less likely to take that serendipitous wrong turn to discover, say, the perfect country pub. When we began to own cars, we would cruise, explore or simply thrill at speeding along the open road. Much like the car, the Internet has become commonplace. We no longer cruise or ‘surf’ the ‘information superhighway’ (remember that?). No, now we are fed exactly what we want to hear by Google. Tailored results in seconds, fantastic! But at what cost?
The Internet, or at least our experience of it, is in danger of becoming a homogenous echo chamber, a place where we no longer bump into the interesting, curious or downright bizarre. Now we ‘share’ the same-looking vintage photos or subscribe to our own point of view. The chance of stumbling upon a page or point of view not already held is limited. Consumers on autopilot won’t look for or notice brands and products they aren’t looking for. Who has time to simply browse these days? Searching rather than browsing is what we do now, and we usually don’t look beyond the first page of results or even the first result. How is a new or small challenger brand to get noticed?
As consumers should we throw off the shackles of the personalised, tailored Internet to crash the autopilot and embrace the unknown? We could bring a bit of chance and uniqueness back into our browsing. Some of the world’s greatest discoveries were stumbled upon. Give it some thought the next time you’re sent a ‘viral’ video you’ve already shared. Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself…
“Let’s go surfing now, everybody’s learning how, come on and safari with me…” – The Beach Boys