Digital Dilemma – which tribe are you?


INTERNET users fall into four distinct ‘tribes’, according to a new survey.

The majority of people are either Digitally Dominant, Digitally Deft, Digitally Deaf or Digitally Disabled.

The Digitally Dominant person has fully adopted the digital age but in the process forfeited the pleasures of spoken conversation and human interaction.

Whilst only representative of about 16% of the population they are a growing band of people who ‘over indulge’ in digital.

This group run their lives digitally and electronically, eschewing as often as possible any verbal interaction with others.  19% of the group admit that they can easily have two days a week without uttering a word to anyone else if needs be.

Whilst there is no typical day for this group they can travel, eat, communicate, and entertain themselves without conversing or requesting anything directly from a live person.

They will always try to ensure that they purchase any travel document, such as a train or airline ticket, via machines at a station or online; they will choose to exit a station via the barriers and never via the guard’s exit; they purchase lunch either via a vending machine or by using contact-less payment cards; and are more likely than any other group to have Iris scans on their passports which allow them access through passport control without meeting a person.

This group usually carry at least two mobile devices with them at all time, most often a phone and Tablet and their use of the internet is exceptionally proficient; the devices, for instance, are five times more likely than any other group to be compatible with each other.

Weekly food shopping is habitually undertaken via the internet.  This group is four times less likely to go to an actual shop than any other group and if they do, there is an extremely strong likelihood that it is a large supermarket with self-checkouts.

Holidays are booked on the internet too, and airline check-in done online.  All insurance, applications, plus banking are kept online.  Any personal correspondence is also initiated online or via text and kept in these modes for as long as possible.

But perhaps more importantly this group speaks face to face nearly half as much as any other group.

This group is most like Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean character or Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory in their wish not to actually and actively engage with people.

Drew Nicholson of digital agency, dnx, which carried out the survey, said: “Whilst the digital revolution has given us all immense choice in the way we deal with situations from financial transactions to purchasing goods, from booking entertainment to messaging each other it should not be used to replace the art of conversation and human contact.  But there are a significant minority who are using the far-reaching benefits of digital as a substitute for real personal engagement.”

The Digitally Dominated are very digitally minded and most of their conversations with friends and colleagues are run on Facebook and other social media sites.

Digitally Deft

Switched on to the digital age the Digitally Deft use all the digital options at their disposal to try and make a better life for themselves.  They make digital work for them yet are not slaves to it.

They use it for all manner of things and as a primary source of communication.  But for every 100 texts they send they will make around ten phone calls, enjoying the sound of a voice and the emotions that it carries.  They are more likely to adopt internet phone services like Skype than any other group and 27% of them believe this has helped them stay in contact with international friends more easily than previously available.

Nearly half this group admit that they had been becoming too dependent on digital messaging.  Their realisation that a voice conversation is one of life’s great pleasure means that they have been flocking back to live conversation.

This group will shop online, on the high street and in shopping centres in equal proportion.  They believe the convenience and time saved by shopping online has given them greater leisure time for other activities and personal pursuits which often includes retail therapy.

Whilst travelling the Digitally Deft choose a method for finding out information, booking services and purchasing goods which is most appropriate for them at the time, saves them time and money.  They are, therefore, not wedded to digital options, but are fully conversant with them and the gamut of alternatives.

The greatest users of social networking sites, this group is also three times more likely to watch TV through a Player and watch at a time that suits them, rather than when aired.  Around 30% also have a Twitter account.

At home reading either a paperback or an e-book this group is comfortable with the digital age and embraces it easily and readily.

Daniel Craig’s interpretation of James Bond would be a good example of this group.

Digitally Deaf

In a rather counter-revolutionary manner the Digitally Deaf seem to relish rebutting the digital advance, whether it be consciously enforced or not.  Either way the this group is clinging to a bygone era which is unlikely to return but which still holds much merit for them.

Letters, cards and good old fashion phone calls on a handset attached to the actual mechanics of the phone are favoured by this group over email, internet cards and mobile calls.

However, the research found that this group is not necessarily old fashioned or even old.  15% of them were under 30 years old and of this 90% were fully conversant with email, the internet and all manner of digital appliances; they just prefer not to use them the whole time.

Rather than shop online this group is more likely to be found shopping at their local retailers or farm shops, indeed anywhere that has a cash till operated by a person.

Similarly, if they are off to the cinema they prefer to purchase from a manned kiosk and so are three times more likely to view the latest film release at a village hall or independent cinema.

Mary Portas would like this group as they are huge fans of and visitors to the high street.  They are six times more likely than the Digitally Dominant group to book their holidays via a high street located travel operator.

They watch television in real time, rarely recording anything and their mobile phone is seldom in need of topping up; they carry it only for emergencies or for friends to call them.

This group is totally aware and even appreciative of the digital revolution, they just choose to engage with it on their terms and only when absolutely necessary.  To them ‘conversation is the window to the mind’.

Nicholson says: “Engaging and competent this group maybe, but their refusal to fully engage with the digital age means that they lose out on many of the time saving and fiscal benefits of the internet; the speed of digital messaging and the convenience of downloading content to view at their leisure.”

Michael Winner’s fictional character in an insurance advert well represents this group.

Digitally Disabled

A startling 17% of those interviewed were found to be in the Digitally Disabled group; made up of those who are being left behind the digital curve but don’t want to be.  Similar to those who grew up without the ability to read yet hid it well, this group is following a similar trajectory.  Whilst this group is of a diverse age range, there are still a disproportionate number in the under 25 year old range compared with the other groups.

Often hindered by the lack of confidence in and conviction of their abilities this group becomes a self-perpetuating one.

More than five times more likely to have made a mistake when using the internet than other groups, such as booking 20 seats for a concert instead of two, this groups begins to doubt their abilities and thus shuns future use of all things digital.

Of those within this group 42% have not sought assistance to master digital because they believe they will be perceived as less capable.  Whilst the majority found their phones easy to use, they tended to struggle with internet shopping, booking of tickets online, navigating sites and downloading content such as music and films.

Frustrated by many of their experiences this group is finding itself left behind.

Nicholson says: “This is a worrying trend.  Being unable to fully engage with the digital age is a hinderance in a modern society.  Digital is replacing many former hardcopy based tasks such as tax submissions and job applications.  In addition, often the cheaper deals are only available to those using a digital service; thus those who access them via any other method often find themselves excluded from the deals and financially disadvantaged.”

Carl Pilkington’s character in Idiot Abroad and Ricky Gervais’ David Brent in The Office reflect this group’s dilemma.

A thousand people were interviewed across the nation.