Study: Global Digital Future Looks 'Blight'


They are not happy about where the world is going, and they are suspicious of digital technology. More than half of them think everyone should stop sharing personal thoughts and experiences online; they believe society needs to reestablish its privacy boundaries. 

No -- these are not the ideas of the members of the William Gibson fan club or sentiments of the Trappists -- they represent the view of the mainstream, a broad group from around the world polled by Euro RSCG Worldwide. The firm has completed a major global study with Market Probe International, polling 7,213 adults in 19 countries about their opinion of technology and the future.

Millennials are perhaps the most cynical, and 70% of them believe that today’s youth have no sense of personal privacy. A third of Millennials, versus a quarter everyone polled, conceded as much that social networking is making them less satisfied with their own lives. They also said they are jealous of the lives they are seeing others lead via Facebook and other sites. Forty percent sometimes feel they are wasting their lives.



Said Marianne Hurstel, vice president of BETC Euro RSCG and global chief strategy officer at Euro RSCG Worldwide, in a statement: “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." 

While only 10% said they believe digital technology will have a negative effect overall on the world, a much bigger percentage said they felt the jury is still out: 42% believe it’s too soon to tell. Half the sample worries that digital technology and multitasking are impairing our ability to think deeply and to concentrate on one task at a time. Around two-thirds believe society has become too shallow, focusing too much on things that don’t really matter. 

Tom Morton, chief strategy officer, Euro RSCG New York and co-chief strategy officer, Euro RSCG North America, said in the statement that respondents articulated several concerns. “First is the fear that social media and online data collection are chiseling away at our right to privacy,” he said. “At the same time, people worry that hyper-connectivity is actually making us feel less connected. More than half the sample worry that digital communication is weakening human-to-human bonds. As marketers, we have a dual role to play -- to assuage people’s concerns about privacy and to create more meaningful connections.”

A majority of those polled said they are tired of over-consuming and are looking to scale back and live more simply. Forty percent said they would happier if they owned less stuff. Nearly three-quarters of respondents around the world are moderately to extremely worried about the growing gap between rich and poor. 

“We’re going to see more of a push for a sort of ‘hybrid’ way of living that combines the best of the old and new -- keeping current conveniences while holding fast to those traditions and values that are in danger of disappearing,” said Hurstel. “Whether one is spending time digging in the dirt in the garden, immersing oneself in literary classics, or purchasing artisan-made products, people will seek to temper the new with the old, the artificial with the natural, the digital with the analog. And in this way, we’ll create a way of living that offers more meaning, comfort, and, ultimately, satisfaction.” 

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