The Internet is a member of our family.
According to my last monthly bill each of us spent about 5.4 hours a week online, which makes us pretty much average American Net users. I cannot speak forthe rest of my family, but I relish my online time. Now a new study tells me I should feel bad about it. Bourbon, red meat, whole milk and the Internet, too?
According to the study, the Web makes useven lonelier and more isolated than we already are. The more hours people use the Internet, the less time they spend with real human beings. There is a danger of worsening social isolation and adeadened atomized world without human emotion.
Could that be possible? Did I miss fighting the shopping-mall crowds last Christmas to buy one of my sons a hat he had wanted? Not at all . I spent 15 minutesonline instead of two hours — minimum - searching for parking then trudging from store to store to have indifferent, young clerks shrug their shoulders and mutter, 'No problem.' 'That is not the kindof contact I crave. Online, in the last couple of weeks I've kept in touch with busy friends, some of whom live halfway around the world, and tracked temperatures in Seville, which we will visit nextmonth. I have easily located and purchased out-of-print books from small, secondhand dealers and looked up some useful exercises for a knee I had hurt. Each of these little solitary outings made meshamefully happy.
The other night, my 14-year-old son was ecstatic to have gotten access to the chat room his school friends visit. It would be better if they all lived on the same block so they couldhang out together in person. But connecting on-line may be the best alternative.
According to the study, of the people in the study who are online five or more hours a week — about 20 percent ofthose surveyed — 59 percent are spending less time watching television. Is that making life worse? Online, some of the conversations are two-way.
Of course there are concerns. I recently told my...
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