Why do we spend time online?

I think it's important for marketing anything online to know why and how people use the Internet. Yesterday, I asked my followers on Twitter: Why do people spend time online?

This is my original list:

Information
Entertainment
Inspiration
Connection (Socializing, not wanting to miss out on anything–feeling a part of a community)

These were added over the course of the tweets:

Education (@msholin)
I thought education might be the same as going online to get information, but Marilyn says it’s different and I understand. She expounded in two more tweets:

Not really info is looking up something (like cat is sick) Education is actually studying or doing a tutorial or learning.
When I use internet to research that is information..when I want to do a tutorial or learn something, that is education.

Procrastination (@lisacall)
I was of the mind that there was something deeper–something related to the above–like staying connected. After all, she could procrastinate another task by doing anything other than going online. But Lisa insists that she doesn’t procrastinate with any of the above in mind. She’s procrastinating for the sake of procrastinating–avoiding what she really should be doing.

Addiction (@lizamyers)
After asking her about what it was that she was addicted to, Liza thought that, Yes, it might be an addiction to staying connected. So, I'm going to drop this one and lump it with Connection.

My final list (until I see your comments) of why we spend time online

  • To be informed
  • To be entertained
  • To be inspired
  • To stay connected with others
  • To educate (although I'm still temped to put that under "To be informed")
  • To procrastinate (Whaddya think? Does it stay?)

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9 comments to Why do we spend time online?

  • I’ve been thinking about this and I think the wording of “to stay connected” is better as your original of “connection” as lot of what I am doing is forming new relationships not just staying connected with existing relationships. Curious on others thoughts on procrastination – I’m not after any of those other things when I am procrastinating – I can’t even say what I am doing during that time. Zoning out might be an appropriate description.

  • To get the light…Up here we don’t get much sunlight, so it is common for people to stay glued to their screens for 8 hours at a time…A teenager in our building was the subject of an intervention by his stepDad after staying on his computer for three days almost in a row, not eating much & avoiding invitations to outdoor activities…The police were called in when stepdad removed boy’s computer…Boy called police…Boy ended up in psychiatric ward for a little rehab…Comment:Plants need light to grow, so do people…Put a lighted screen in front of a human & they will be attracted, maybe addicted to it…it’s the light…(I think it’s gamma rays…)

  • absolutely leave procrastination. On-line is my favorite of all procrastinations…sure beats cleaning the house (another one, believe it or not). Around here we call it productive procrastination – but it’s still about avoiding something that needs to be done.

  • I found this really interesting and useful, Alyson. I find myself wanting to share stuff through the internet EQUALLY with receiving stuff. So I am thinking it is different for different folks. Some are more on the ‘outflow’ and others more on the ‘inflow’. But in terms of using the internet as an artist to help one’s work and sales, this is really valuable. You always come up with the best stuff! Lynne

  • I guess by how you’ve stated this, you mean the time spent online when one is not being informing, entertaining, inspiring, (ie the active message sender, not the passive recipient. ) How about “to be surprised” (maybe that’s a subset of entertained?) or “to be provoked” or ” to be confirmed”?

  • I like the list with ‘procrastination’ on it. On my own personal list, I don’t think I ‘educate’ anyone per se, but I do use the internet to be educated on occasion.

  • Keep procrastination. For me, even though I’m hitting art sites and could remotely be construed as productive, it usually is just hovering just to see what’s out there today when I have some decisions to make about a piece of art or some admin work I’m not wanting to do.

  • Liz Crain

    Hi Definitely keep Procrastination. As a local radio station used to say, “It’s a waste of time, but it’s a Quality Waste of Time.” And that behavior is the root of some of the others. I am definitely wondering about To Purchase Things…Conduct Business or…is that….what? Reality? A Way of Life? If anything, it defines the difference between Information and Education a bit more.

  • I just don’t get twitter. I’ve had an account for a short while and it’s not going anywhere. I tried following someone but my page ended up with HUNDREDS(!!!!!) of his tweets so that my were totally lost! How does that help me? So now I’m reluctant to follow anybody else. And when I reply to someone, even my followers, it shows up on my page but not theirs . Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I can’t figure it out. And Facebook won’t let me sign up because my first name is K. and they refuse to believe that that is my full name! But I keep trying. I now have 5 blogs as well as 2 websites.