THE digital world is getting mighty crowded. It seems as if all businesses are finally gravitating towards this space. So, in the coming months and years consumers can expect to be e-mailed, texted, tagged, and tweeted to within an inch of their lives. And who can blame the hawkers and other purveyors of goods and services; after all this is where the action is, and where they can get the world's attention.
Plus, let's face it, the 'digital standpipe' and storefronts are by far, the cheaper methods of getting messages 'out there' than traditional media. In fact, not to be outdone, the more far-thinking owners of traditional media are hitching their wagons to the star of the digital medium and are creating e-newspapers, and are in other ways complementing their physical products with virtual ones. Everyone is in a race to get their message to stand out against the background of the world's digital clutter. The consumer is faced with a chaotic avalanche of information which threatens to drown us.
Within the last few years this is how our physical world has changed for the many of us who have Internet access and minutes to burn. The shopping mall isn't what it used to be before now. There was a time when we would climb into our vehicles, drive around swearing, trying to find a parking space and then squeeze into too many too- small outfits or too-tight pairs of shoes, until we eventually find a store that suits our dignity, and our pockets. Nowadays it is our fingers that do the walking. A whole lot of shopping is being done on-line via Amazon whose founder, Jeff Bezos, is now one of the world's wealthiest men. At 48 years old, Bezos' net worth is US$18.4 billion as at March 2012, according to Forbes Magazine. I can almost hear the howls of derision when he started his business in his garage in 1994. Who's laughing now? He has the world's largest storefront. Even I, and my lowly credit card visit amazon.com occasionally to graze and gaze. On-line shopping works, and the world has beat a path to the virtually doors.
The realms of social interaction has changed dramatically as well. Social media networks like Facebook, MySpace have impacted us and this explosion has meant that we all have a few hundred or (or thousand) friends that we will never, ever meet face to face. You can if you wish too, get e-mail notification of every post of ever activity your 'friends' undertake on a daily basis. The irony of this scenario is that we know their names, their daily habits, how they feel about the weekend and their jobs, yet we have never rested our eyes on them, except on line. We are comfortable speaking with these strangers and forming alliances and romantic relationships on-line. I am waiting with bated breath for the Jamaican equivalent to Match.com, the largest dating on-line website where men and women get to lie with impunity about themselves, that is, until they have finally have to meet their dates face to face. Then it is that 'story comes to bump'. A word to the wise: if you are a Hefty Harry who could stand to lose a few, lying about your looks is not the best way to embark on a relationship. The advice is the same for the ladies. But the truth is that on-line dating websites allow you to bypass the awkwardness of whether or not your potential partner is compatible, and they have become all the rage. Who knows, perhaps there will come a time when bar-hopping might become a thing of the past.
For entertainment we need not even walk out the front door to purchase a movie ticket. We can go to Netflix to rent a movie. In fact it was reported in the Jamaica Observer last July that Netflix is expanding its movie and TV show streaming service into 43 countries throughout Latin America (including Jamaica) in the online movie rental company's largest international expansion yet. If that does not work for you, there is always YouTube, Pandora and Hulu where you can to get rich online entertainment. Every now and then a Jamaican will post a 'masterpiece' that enters mainstream media and into our lexicon. Who remembers Clifton 'Cliff Twang' Brown and his ride to the top of our consciousness for that brief moment in time. There are many of us who can now say a sentence which includes the words 'canna cross it' and make everyone understand exactly what you mean. It was first on Youtube.
Libraries too have almost become a thing of the past. For any information you want you can sift through on Google or Wikipedia: you just have to remember to ensure that their source of the information is accurate. You can get your books on-line or on your Kindle or iPad. The true booklovers will always want to thumb through their copies and lovingly bend the ears of our books and magazines.
Most financial companies also offer their services on-line as well. The number of persons who are accessing their accounts is growing in leaps and bounds, as the ease of transaction makes it a more convenient way to manage accounts. Whether or not we like it, the digital world is going to take us over. Are you ready?
Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with
RO Communications Jamaica, specialising in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.rocommunications.com and post your comments.