One of the perceptions that fuel frantic lifestyles is the idea that everyone is involved in a particular fad or fashion. Especially in our mass society, the penalty for not being part of what “everyone is dong” is to risk being labeled out of sync with the times. No where is this perception more common than in the fast moving world of the Internet
Conventional wisdom claims everyone is online and no one can survive without a connection. The drive to digital lifestyles is seemingly unstoppable and inevitable.
However, the facts do not support this conclusion. A surprisingly large and stable sector of Americans is quite content to be offline. A recent Pew Research survey found that some 15 percent of Americans do not use the Internet on any device and another nine percent use it only at their workplaces. A surprising 92 percent of these offline adults are quite content to remain unconnected.
“Most offline adults either don’t see the Internet as relevant to them, or feel that it would not be worth the effort,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a Pew researcher and author of the report on the poll. “And though many have had some experiences with the Internet in the past, most non-Internet users say they are not interested in going online in the future.”
This rejection of the online world is not limited to older people. While older people are more likely to be offline, the youngest polled adults (age 18-29) listed 13 percent of the group without an online connection. Some of the nonuser even live together with others who are connected while others were seasoned Internet users before giving it up.
The poll does not support the conclusion that use of the Internet is necessarily harmful. People can and often must use it for all sorts of reasons. However, the poll does say that there is life beyond the Internet. People can and do exercise the option of staying offline. The frantic perception of “everyone is doing it” that fuels an economy of frenetic intemperance can be opposed by simply pulling the plug.