Digital divide: a missed opportunity in the age of the selfie stick

News editor

I didn’t think such a thing was possible but this summer I found myself holidaying in a country where it is cheaper to drink beer than it is to drink coffee.

This unexpected and very welcome surprise was offset somewhat by a newly observed phenomenon that threatened to take the edge off my first visit to this island Utopia in the Aegean Sea.

The island in question is exceptionally beautiful and its well known architectural styles play a part in attracting tourists from all over the world, many of whom were adept in a practice that had me wondering if I’d had one too many and had started to see things.

A new item appears to have slipped into the suitcase alongside the bucket and spade, and it potentially threatens to bring about another chapter in the estrangement of humans from one another.

Said item came in the form of the so-called selfie stick.

For those of you unfamiliar with this hellish device, the selfie stick lets its owner attach a smartphone to the end of a stick in order to take photos or shoot video and it was a rare moment indeed not to see a fellow tourist staring up at their phone to make a visual record of their stay, quite often on roads awash with fast-moving motorised vehicles and almost always without looking where they were going.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was similarly unnerving to witness groups of people in restaurants who preferred to interact with their phones rather than the people they were having dinner with.

Maybe they were checking Twitter or their Facebook statuses after uploading their holiday selfies?

Either way, it made me realise that there is no turning back from this age of digital devices and the social media that has accompanied it

To me, it seems the desire to interact with fellow humans is as strong as ever, so long as it takes place in the digital ether.

I am, of course, being somewhat unfair. Until recently it wasn’t unusual to be stopped in London by a tourist who wanted their photo taken and the selfie stick removes any doubt from the user that they are imposing on another’s time. It also removes the possibility of the stranger deliberately taking a bad pic.

As for social media, the ability to start conversations with anyone in the world with a digital device must be heralded as one of humanity’s greatest advances.

There was a time when the wireless radio and television were seen as technology advances that marked a worrying trend in individual desires over collective experiences, so concerns of mine in this digital age are more to do with the realisation that the world is moving forward and I need to keep up. 

I’m just going to have to get used to it, as are – believe it or not – manufacturers, some of whom have yet to fully embrace the many advantageous facets of the digital age, including fully functioning websites that let customers place orders.

A report from Acquity Group states: The key for B2B organizations is to transform their customer’s online journey into an omni-channel experience that emphasises digital channels, especially since younger, tech-savvy generations will soon make up the majority of corporate procurement departments. By focusing on continually improving the holistic experience for corporate buyers and integrating value-add features, organisations can dramatically increase online sales, profitability and return on digital investments.

The fact seems to be that if you aren’t doing it then someone else will be, which leads nicely to the final word on this subject from US company Coburn-Myers Fastening Systems: “Online shopping” may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about fasteners, but it is something that we have adopted in our business model in order to make the ordering process as simple and painless as possible for our customers.

“It may seem strange for an industrial fastener supply company to be active online and on social media, but we feel it is the best way to provide our customers with the highest level of customer service and personal attention.”