[LINK] Every man is an island with the Net
Mon, 21 Feb 2000 13:28:50 +1100
As so frequently happens, cause and effect get confused.
If there *is* an association between Internet usage and social behaviour, it's
just as easy to imagine the Internet as an enabling technology for a tendency
which already existed ... the fantasy of withdrawal, of being sufficient unto
myself, is one that's been with people for a lonnnnng time.
So: a technology comes along with allows people to abstract part of their lives
into a fantasy, and a survey discovers this, and then associates the abstraction
as being caused by the technology, instead of the technology merely enabling
expression of a desire ... like I said, mixing cause and effect.
It would, perhaps, be better to ask:
1) *are* people increasingly avoiding contact with their fellows?
2) if the answer is yes, why? What factors, psychological and social and
economic and political, make this withdrawal attractive?
3) Is there anything that *can* be done? that *should* be done?
Of course, that sort of research may not fit into your typical university social
sciences research grant, whereas "Is the Internet Fracturing Society?" is
affordable AND gets headlines...even if it's somewhat fatuous.
Subject: Re: [LINK] Every man is an island with the Net
Date: 20/02/00 9:47
Bernard Reported on Nie's Stanford University findings that:
> * The more years people have spent online, the more hours they spend on the
They are suggesting that it becomes addictive, but it could just be that the
early adopters of the Internet had more needs or applications than later
users. I believe this is probably a better explanation than the addictive
> * A quarter of regular Net users claim it has reduced their time with
> friends and family, or attending events outside the home.
Well, of course they would. Eating breakfast reduces the time I spend
attending outside events, also. About a quarter of regular Net users,
probably use the Internet from home as part of their work.
> * A quarter of regular users say the Net has increased the time they spend
> working from home, without cutting back at the office.
Of course they would. Have you ever heard anyone admit that they do less work
nowadays than they did in the past. A quarter of Net users would be ambitious
people trying to get ahead by using the Net. In the past, they would have
been brown-nosing the boss by staying back late at work.
> * 60 per cent of people say the Net has reduced their TV.
I would say that the poor quality of television, has increased my use of the
> * 30 per cent say they spend less time reading newspapers.
But they could be making up for it by reading more on-line. I have reduced my
purchase of newspapers in the last few years because I find I can go on-line
and read items of interest from a dozen newspapers around the world. I also
regularly watch items on the BBC-TV news from Sydney.
There was another story in the papers the same week pointing out that Internet
users were no longer geek types, but normal people with normal families, doing
I think it came from a Forrester Group survey.
Stewart Fist - writer and columnist
http://www.abc.net.au/http/sfist/ (some archives)
http://www.electric-words.com (main archives)
70 Middle Harbour Road, Lindfield, 2070, N.S.W, Australia
Phone +61 2 9416 7458 Fax +61 2 9416 4582