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IT rules our lives
In today`s very unpredictable world, everyone wishes they could be a fortuneteller. If only we could see the future by merely gazing into a crystal ball, we would be able to take advantage of opportunities that we would not otherwise see and take steps to avoid misfortunes that could spell our doom.
Short of showing us our entire future, there are people such as economists, marketing specialists and trend-spotters who identify current trends and aim to arrive at some sort of prediction of how things are going to be like in the near future. Granted not all of their predictions will come true, here is a look at some of what these future gurus are seeing in their crystal balls.
Taking things slowly has been a keyword for a number of years now. This downshifting, which can take many forms such as changing of jobs, leaving the city for life in smaller cities or rural side, or moving to a country with a slower pace of life, has been a discernable trend in the West.
In Korea, however, where the culture of "ppalli, ppalli" (quickly, quickly) is predominant and the population is accustomed to rapid economic development, the term downshifting may appear strange and unfamiliar. Yet, the philosophical root of this downshift movement is not alien to our society, according to "2010 Korea Trend," a report published by LG Economic Research Institute last month that identifies trends that will soon become pervasive. Buddhism, which emphasizes meditation and discovery of the self, is still prevalent here. One of the most frequently featured themes of Joseon-period "sijo," or poetry, is "anbinnakdo," which roughly translates to "comfortable because poor, happy following the Way." These values coincide with the modern day ideals of downshifters.
Among the young, "freeter," someone who works in a variety of jobs rather than being tied to a regular, permanent job, is closely related to downshifting. Rather than be tied down to an organization, freeters work to earn just about enough money to enjoy their hobbies.
Middle-aged people, when they decide to live life in a low gear, have the option of leaving the country all together. These are folks who trade in security for a slower pace of life in countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
It is a fact of life that not everyone can afford to change their lifestyles permanently. Weekend Buddhist temple stays have been cropping up around the country to cater to the needs of these people who seek serenity, even only for a couple of days. The growing popularity of yoga and meditation is also part of this trend. So is the emergence of cafes with outdoor tables in the posh Cheongdam-dong area, where at a cafe named "Walking Slowly" customers hangout on the veranda eating organic sandwiches, idly watching people and cars pass by.
The development of information and telecommunications technologies is one of the leading forces driving the changes in our everyday living. The ubiquitous lifestyle of anywhere, anytime connectivity, already realized to a large extent, will become the norm in a few years.
In fact, people will be able to make time for taking things slowly precisely because of the technological innovations. In a matter of a few years, a new breed of consumers, termed transumers shop anywhere, anytime will become the norm. This is possible because of the emergence of convergence phone and around-the-clock mobile shopping service.
It is not just shopping that these people will be able to enjoy on the go. The notion of "spare time" will become redundant as people will be able to enjoy movies, music and books during what have traditionally been called dead time, such as commuting time and waiting time, according to the LG Economic Research Institute report.
However, doesn`t this ubiquitous lifestyle mean that the average Joe ultimately ends up working longer hours, with the line between working hours and leisure hours blurred? Well, if things go as intended, by getting more done during the work hours, one will have more time to unwind. At least, that is the goal. And there are numerous IT gadgets out there such as a robot housemaid that will take care of the work you don`t want so you can do the things you really want to do.
Digital divide has been a growing concern ever since the introduction of the Internet. If you have access to the vast sea of information in the cyber space and have the ability to process and use that information, you are a winner. On the other hand, the digital "have-nots" will be left behind in the economy. The 20 percent of the population that are leading the informatization era will become richer while the remaining 80 percent will become poorer, according to "2010 Korea Trend."
Information technology has also created another divide, a generation divide that is most clearly demonstrated in the language used in the cyber space. Ask any middle-aged person to read an e-mail or SMS sent by a teenager and chances are he won`t understand the message. For the uninitiated, the message will appear to be just a heap of garbled text.
One of the key characteristics of today`s Internet language is that they words are written as they are spoken. No phonetics rules apply here. Also, words are abbreviated to the max. Economy of words is a prime virtue in the virtual world. The use of emoticons, or symbols expressing emotions, is another feature of Internet language. Simple is better and if seeing ^^ can visually be associated with a broad smile, then why not? Despite the concerns of worried linguists and language purists, it will be difficult to stem the tide of language evolution as the Internet becomes more and more part of our everyday life.
The Internet has also changed how we form relationships. This is the age of cyberlation, a combination of cyber and relation. While the early days of Cyworld, the popular mini homepage service, allowed the users to share their thoughts and private life, it quickly evolved to become an exclusive domain shared by only those who have chosen to belong together. This is an example of selective relationship building that will become increasingly the norm, at least here. Whereas in the West, the Internet is a vehicle for open communication, in Korea where relationships are more valued than communication, the same has carried been carried over into the virtual world, resulting in exclusive networks.