There are many reasons for using the internet, but only a few types of internet users. Below we unpack six internet user stereotypes of varying habits and how and why they use the internet. Let us know if you identify with any of the below stereotypes.
1. The Infinite Scroller
Psychologists use a device called a Skinner Box when studying animal behaviour. A Skinner Box is a cage with a live mouse, a lever and a chute that delivers treats to the mouse in return for a particular action. When the mouse pushes the lever, it may or may not be rewarded with a treat (treats are administered randomly). Once the animal knows there’s a chance of receiving a treat, it will keep pressing on the lever. It’s a cue–action–reward cycle, but sometimes the mouse is rewarded, sometimes not.
Social media feeds are infinite by design, allowing internet users to scroll seemingly forever without running out of content to engage with. Like the mouse, the Infinite Scroller will keep swiping their screen, hoping to be rewarded with great content for their efforts. The scrolling can be mindless and automatic. The more the user scrolls and likes, the more of their favourite content type the social media feed will serve them. This reinforces the scrolling behaviour, which eats into the users time and self-management. Be careful Infinite Scroller, lest you develop unchecked facial hair growth, bad breath or tons of wasted time.
2. Serial Trailer Watcher
The Serial Trailer Watcher settles down after a long day with the idea of watching a good movie on their favourite streaming service. They will find a possible choice and watch the trailer – which wasn’t bad – but hold out for something better. The Serial Trailer Watcher moves on to the following trailer, the next one, and the next.
Twenty-five minutes later, their minds are still not made up about which programme to watch, but they know everything available. They believe that somewhere in the plethora of options, there is a right choice but with all the possibilities, how do you know which one it is? And what if you’re disappointed with your choice? This phenomenon is known as ‘choice paralysis’ and develops because of too many options.
Serial Trailer Watchers need to lower their expectations from ‘I want the best’ to ‘this is good enough’ to avoid wasted time and frustrations. Or they could allow 10 minutes of trailer gazing, narrow it down to their top three and choose from those.
3. The Vicarious FOMO Browser
FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, occurs when an online user witnesses videos or photos of friends and family having a great time. The Vicarious FOMO Browser feels they missing out when these exciting happenings occur in their absence. Even when not browsing social media, the feeling of being left out while offline hangs over their heads like a dark cloud. The FOMO Browser may start to compare other people’s lives to their lives and doubt their quality of such, while feeling insecure.
The Vicarious FOMO Browser needs regular breaks from online activities and social media platforms. Time offline allows for the enjoyment of doing something they love. Remember, Vicarious FOMO Browser, you only watch a highlight reel of friends online, like the best parts of a movie. It’s not their whole life. They get bored, have bad days and probably experience FOMO when watching your excellent highlight reel.
Our advice, go grab a cup of coffee with friends and family in a real coffee shop.
4. The Endless Selfie-Taker
Obsessed with hair, make-up, clothes, and pecks, the selfie-takers are both men and women. They love to share random posts doing everything from eating, sitting, and relaxing to posing at stunning destinations or extreme adventures. They have little or no interest in dialogue around politics, social issues, or economics. Still, they love talking about their favourite subject, themselves.
The upside about The Selfie-Taker is they are generally creative people that can entertain The Auto-Scroller, Serial Trailer Watcher and the Vicarious FOMO Browser. But a word of advice, Endless Selfie-Taker, please be careful of your surroundings when taking yet another selfie. Those mirrors are lurking in the background.
5. The Compare-aholic
Compare-Aholics can master the hunt for the best bargains online. They use the internet to compare prices against traditional retail outlets. If they cannot shop and compare, the internet is useless to them.
These users are the most attractive targets for online marketing and can be the most clueless about how data is used to target them, or they just don’t care.
6. The Gatherer
Like nomadic berry collectors and foragers, these internet users love to gather the information they call research. They will Google everything and cross-reference that information with reputable research reports and white papers. They love to bookmark their favourite web pages they can tap into for any info at any time, mid-conversation.
If you want to know the meaning of words like ‘witenagemot’, these are your people.
Our advice to Gatherers is that it’s best to share information when asked and if you can’t help yourself, be careful not to ramble on and lose friends. Remember, not everyone is as passionate about information and trivial facts as you are.