Embracing the change in online shopping & social networking
THE world is changing pretty fast - exponentially in many cases, particularly in the technology and online industries. It’s natural for anyone, regardless of age or creed, to feel overwhelmed by the library of choice. Laptops, iPads, notebooks, Kindles, iPhones, netbooks, iPods and gaming consoles are all on offer under different brands and with varying specifications. This is failing to mention the infinite range of smartphones.
The wearisome part is that most of these devices are able to do the same things - some better than others. They can all really be thought of as portable computers. Buying new gadgets is fun and exciting but can be stressful and daunting at the same time. Having them all is impractical, and once they are outdated, they will likely become useless junk a few years down the line.
The important things to ask oneself when considering getting that new device everyone is talking about are “do I need this device in my life?” or “how will this gadget add value to my life or improve the things I currently enjoy doing?”
Some go as far as ordering their clothing and groceries online. Most would agree that these are things that we want to touch and see before purchase. Electronics, on the other hand, are certainly worth buying online.
Consider that when you shop in a computer or electronics store, salespeople are arguably hired to try to sell you the most expensive version of what you’re looking for. The products will have a store mark-up; stores need to pay to have the goods ordered, packaged and advertised. This all adds to the price of most electronics.
Online stores are able to cut out most of these extra costs. Online shopping websites, such as takealot.com and kalahari.net, often offer free shipping to your door for orders over certain amounts. We are able to read consumer or peer reviews and assess the ratings fellow consumers have given specific products. Other websites offer comparisons of similar products. And, with a bit of Googling, we can even find video reviews and unbiased write-ups to aid our decision-making.
There is really very little need these days to stand in a bank queue again. The transference of funds can all be done online via online banking and PayPal. If there are still banks that do not offer these services they won’t be around for long. The only thing to be cautious of is phishing - receiving a scam e-mail, for example, asking you to supply or “update” your banking details. A reputable bank will never ask such things of you via e-mail.
Then there is the plethora of social networking sites and services - Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Google Wave, blogs, forums and the lot. Social networking sites are in a constant state of flux and new ones will emerge while others may wither and die.
The world of social networking should not be feared, but rather embraced for all its potential. This is now largely how people communicate worldwide, how companies recruit new employees, how business contacts are formed and how we consume our news and media.
The best bet is to stick with the tried and tested. With any free social networking site or service, we may have to deal with copious amounts of advertising, but this is a fairly small price to pay. Social networks are inevitably under the watchful eyes of their users. If any social networking site were to seriously violate any human right, or start charging users unfair amounts, they would soon be replaced.
Obviously one needs to be careful with what information you decide to provide on social networking websites, and this does not only pertain to profile information. “Liking” or becoming a fan of a particular brand or product might see you receiving related ads or promotions for a long time to come.
Embrace the change: online shopping and social networking
It is also advisable to never defame someone on a social network. This can come back to haunt you. Jobs have been lost and relationships have been broken as a result. Understand that whatever you do online effectively creates an ongoing online record of yourself.
But again, the inevitable growth of the Internet and development of technology should not be feared. There will always be those who will try to take advantage and scam us. In fact, nearly two thirds of our beloved Internet is comprised of spam. But the more you practice being a savvy online user, the better equipped you will be to filter out the bad and make the most of the good.
The Consumer Protection Act guards us and I can say with confidence that the greater good will always prevail online. There is much to learn and discover as the Internet continues to bring our world closer together. It is my opinion that its fast-changing pace is both exciting and full of great potential. Embrace and work with it and it will ultimately enrich your life.