Question

Will the Web bring people closer together or drive each of us into our own private virtual worlds? Wired Americans are spending less time with friends and family, less time shopping in stores, and more time working at home after hours. More than one-third of consumers who have access to the Internet report that they are online at least 5 hours a week. Also, 60 percent of Internet users say they have reduced their television viewing, and one-third say they spend less time reading newspapers—those that still remain as many fold due to a lack of readership and advertising revenue.
However, a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that more than half of users the group surveyed feel that e-mail actually strengthens family ties. Users reported far more off-line social contact than nonusers did. These results argue that people spend more time than ever with others. It is just that they form strong relationships over the Internet instead of in person. However, the author of the first survey disagrees. As he observes, “If I go home at 6:30 in the evening and spend the whole night sending e-mail and wake up the next morning, I still haven’t talked to my wife or kids or friends. When you spend your time on the Internet, you don’t hear a human voice and you never get a hug.”
A follow-up study found that it works both ways—extroverts tend to make even more friends on the Web, whereas introverts feel even more cut off from the rest of the world. This has been termed the “rich get richer” model of Internet use. What is your take on this issue? Is our wired world turning us into “digital hermits” or does it help us to expand our boundaries by interacting with other people whom we might not otherwise meet? What are the good and bad consequences of this profound change in how we interact with other people?


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  • CreatedJuly 10, 2015
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