The population of people in the United States who don't have an Internet connection is down to 15 percent, new data from Pew Research shows. That's the equivalent of about 47 million people, which at first sounds like a lot—at least to someone immersed in all things online most of the time.
Another way to think about it, though, is to see just how quickly people have adopted the Internet compared with other technologies over time. In the span of 15 years, the United States has transformed into a mostly-Internet-connected country. Back in 2000, a full 48 percent of Americans told Pew they did not use the Internet.
In general, consumers are adopting new technologies at a much quicker clip than they used to. A few years ago, The New York Times published a fascinating graph illustrating this effect, and it’s worth revisiting in this context. The adoption of telephones and of electricity are represented by lines that slope gradually upward over time. Technological consumption isn’t so measured by the time we get to color televisions, microwaves, cellphones, and the Internet—all of which are represented by lines that shoot pretty much straight up. (Computers, on the other hand, show a gradual adoption rate in the 1970s and 1980s before spiking up in the 1990s.)