Ever wondered how many people on the planet are online?

In 2000 there were 360,985,492 users worldwide.

Internet World Stats predicts that in 2011 the number will rise to 2,095,006,005

That’s 2 billion users!

What are all those people doing online?

Let’s look at this awesome diagram created by the RuderFinn Index that describes the Internet habits of Americans (18+).

Tips And Bottoms

Learning (educate self) and Having Fun (pass time) are the clear winners, here.

What’s the least popular activity?

Even less popular than Manage Finance (online banking, tax information, etc.)?

Selling.

Note, that of all the sectors this is the only sector in this diagram involved with directly making money online!

I’ll get back to that, soon.

Global Unemployment And Missed Opportunities

According to ILO data released earlier this year, global unemployment is growing.

6.2 % percent of the world population are without jobs, and not just in the developing world. The Guardian writes:

Although the developed economies of the west account for only 15% of the earth’s working population, they accounted for 55% of the increase in unemployment between 2007 and 2010.

In the Middle East dramatic rates of youth unemployment have been a driving factor of the so-called “Arab Spring”.

It led to the upheaval of several governments and is continuing to take its toll on political systems, but not just in the Middle East, also in countries like Spain and Greece youth unemployment has been a key component of recent protests.

In China, policies of aggressive economic expansion are being pushed to prevent mass unemployment and the resulting political instabilities.

In short: It’s a growing global problem.

But what’s behind it?

New Jobs & Old Habits

It’s not the Industrial Age anymore. Factories are more and more automized. The assembly-line is robotized, accounting for that scary and powerful term of “technical unemployment”.

Manual labour is redundant. Machines, in the long run, are cheaper because they are more productive and don’t need holidays.

As an example, the job of secretary has almost been made obsolete.

around two million administrative and clerical workers lost their jobs after bosses discovered they could handle their calendars and travel arrangements online and rendered their assistants expendable. (source)

Talking about travel arrangements, when was the last time you went to the “travel agency”?

It’s not just the hard physical labor which is replaced by machines. On a subtler level, all kinds of jobs that are related to information and don’t need human intervention are vanishing, being replaced by modern media, especially the Net.

And, as Paul Ford wrote in NYMag, new jobs with increasingly esoteric descriptions are taking their place:

Viral meme tracker, slideshow specialist, headline optimizer — these are jobs that didn’t exist a few years ago

But, as we all know, not everyone can become a Social Media Expert, SEO analyst, etc. (In fact, those two might not even be real jobs but just bland image-stunts)

Exodus To The Online World

The time and energies invested worldwide in the Internet are incredible and growing at an exhilarating pace.

We are networking, chatting to our friends and family, shopping, researching, creating content – all online.

The logical consequence is that in the future we won’t just increasingly spend our money but make it online!

As I described here, the benefits for both the individual and the society cannot be underestimated.

Yet, personally, I know only a hand full of people who manage to make a full-time income online. It’s not that it’s too difficult or requires super-human strength but rather that abounding misconceptions and criticisms keep people away.

One of the most common misconceptions is not to differentiate between working for an online employer or working for oneself.

The jobs offered by companies like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc. are high-paying but very rare and requiring insane amounts of professional experience, knowledge and connections.

Strictly speaking, most of the employments offered by these companies aren’t even online. They have offices with desks and board-meetings just like regular companies.

This is not where future jobs online will come from.

Instead, a huge amount of paying online jobs will be supplied by the people themselves.

Employee and employer are becoming one.

Instead of looking for jobs, or waiting for the government to create them, we now have the opportunity to create them, ourselves.

The belief that making a living online is by definition something half-sleazy, dangerous or even illegal is a false one and unfortunately neither governments or education can be relied upon to set the record straight; They are the proverbial blind leading the blind.

Working online is not just a way to make money.

It’s a lifestyle choice.

Further Reading: