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Have You Ever Been Lonely?

By rusty in News
Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 09:50:28 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

Today's Washington Post has an article about a Stanford University study that claims heavy internet users are more "isolated" than their offline counterparts. The article is chock-full of amusing "call in the clue stick" quotes, like "...such old-fashioned media as newspapers and, particularly, television...", but also has several dissenting opinions. My favorite is this quote from Rutgers professor James (that's James) Katz:

"Being free from the strictures and the sanctions of your neighbors and family used to be considered good," Katz said. "This is what America and the Wild West were founded on. It used to be considered good. Now we have a new, endless frontier, and suddenly we have a lot of people wringing their hands."
What do you all think? Do you feel socially isolated? Or is this more fluff from the "just don't get it" crowd?


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Display: Sort:
Have You Ever Been Lonely? | 22 comments (22 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Yes, I think it would be good to ha... (none / 0) (#4)
by bmetzler on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 11:10:17 AM EST

bmetzler voted 1 on this story.

Yes, I think it would be good to have a discussion about this...
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.

It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#1)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 11:23:01 AM EST

Paul Dunne voted -1 on this story.

It's fluff. E-mail it to the other JK, and let him waffle at length about it someplace that ain't here.
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/

Re: It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#8)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 01:58:21 PM EST

Sure, we've all seen articles like this before. And these "studies" have told us the same thing over and over since 1996. But I submitted this article because I actually thought this was a remarkably well-balanced take on the subject. The first half of the article is the same old crap, but they have several people weigh in with the idea that these studies keep telling us something that is just not true. Plus I really liked the "hand wringing" comment.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#10)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 02:10:03 PM EST

The reason I voted against the article is because it is a prime example of what is essentially a content-free discussion. "The Internet is one big community -- but it makes people more isolated -- no it doesn't -- yes it does" and so on and so on, ad infinitum. There's a hands-on Mozilla article in the queue right now -- that's the stuff! That's not to say I only like techie articles; but the softer, cultural stuff is a lot harder to get right. I think it's worth waiting until that rare thing, a genuinely thoughtful look at the implications of some aspect of modern computing, gets posted -- the Netfuture list is worth watching -- and then discuss that. Otherwise, we could have something like this twice a day, and be very little wiser at the end of it.
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]
Re: It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#12)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 02:16:52 PM EST

it is a prime example of what is essentially a content-free discussion

Good point. I need to put in continuous story voting, and individual thresholds, so you'll be happier :-) Set yours to 8% or 10% and you'll probably never get these kinds of articles. And you'll only have a couple things a day to read (like the mozilla article). Sound like a fair solution?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#17)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 03:21:22 PM EST

Well, I'm happy with things as they are actually! I can vote on articles in the queue, and that's good enough for me. It didn't ruin my day because the article made it to the front page, you know? There is bound to be articles that I'm not interested in; that's only healthy. But, and this is a big but, the day I see article titles like "Intellectual Property Demands The Media", or "Can Computing Stop American Culture?", I'm out of here. (You do know about News for Geeks. Fluff that Matters? Hours... (well, at least five minutes) of fun).
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]
Re: It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#18)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 03:34:40 PM EST

Oh my! Thank you for a good laugh. I hadn't seen that before. I think, when I finally get the RDF boxes working right, I'll put in a little routine that grabs headlines off that page and mixes them in randomly with the /. box's headlines. See if anyone notices. That would be a riot.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#22)
by Inoshiro on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 11:11:18 PM EST

Kinda like dadadodo?

--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#19)
by bmetzler on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 03:47:38 PM EST

but the softer, cultural stuff is a lot harder to get right.

IOW, this is an opinion story. A story where everyone gets to vioce what they think. Hmm, there's no right or wrong, just comments.

What makes the internet community good? What makes it bad? Sure, it's not going to change anyone's view, or really define anything. But that's not the point. Just bounce around some thoughts.

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Re: It's fluff. E-mail it to the other... (none / 0) (#20)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 04:04:44 PM EST

Yes, but I think it makes for a much more productive discussion if the original article is a good one: an article that gives a solid foundation to build on, that helps us work out our own thoughts. Practically anything can provoke a discussion; but I think the content of the original affects the type and value of the ensuing discussion.
http://dunne.home.dhs.org/
[ Parent ]
I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#6)
by Demona on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 11:36:44 AM EST

Demona voted 1 on this story.

I have a life, thank you. I love hearing about other folks' lives. I love communicating with worthwhile people, on or off the net. And I've always been isolated from most people, by choice.

Re: I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#7)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 01:08:56 PM EST

Glad I get a chance to reply to this. :-)

So do you agree or disagree? Are you isolated by nature, and the internet helps you connect with people, or does it just not have much of an effect one way or another?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#21)
by Demona on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 04:55:45 PM EST

I'd have to say the Internet has helped me relax and think before opening my mouth; although I'm still prone toward blunt (honest) speech, being a tad politer is both less stressful on me and more likely to get folks to listen. I'm less hesitant to approach people I don't know, and much less negatively affected by people's opinions of me, so I suppose I'm more apt to "take a chance" trying to get to know someone and have a relationship with them than I was historically.

In real life I tend not to open my mouth unless I have something to say; on the net I range from loquacious and chatty one minute and utterly silent the next. I've always been an isolated person because "most people" weren't worth my time; now I find more in common with people. We're all different -- and vive la difference! -- and so I accept that as a given; now, I'm more interested in how best to communicate and cooperate with others, which means concentrating on our essential similarities rather than our differences.

-dj

conscientous objector in the gender wars

[ Parent ]

Re: I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#9)
by ramses0 on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 01:58:48 PM EST

I tend to think that the internet is one of the most empowering things which has ever happend to promote communication between people.

Take a look at this page and tell me that it doesn't touch you. I am such a better person from this "communication".

I agree with the story that you can't get hugs from the internet, but that's what the real world is for. That's what going to clubs and restaurants and bars and baseball games is for. Perhaps the internet has reduced these activities, but for me it only serves to make them more precious.

--Robert
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]
Re: I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#13)
by bmetzler on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 02:27:07 PM EST

Perhaps the internet has reduced these activities, but for me it only serves to make them more precious.

Only because you've learned they have value. But will the rest of the world learn the value of the real world, or will they find themselves lost in a world that isn't real?

The internet is good, because it allows for communication and interaction that wouldn't be possible otherwise. For instance, how else could I communicate in real-time with someone from Turkey, without the very long-distance charges?

This is probably just growing pains. The internet will change how society interacts, but I predict that people will get use to it, and then accept it. Most innovations caused changes to society. Sure, life changed, but people got use to it and soon forgot the life they lost. Cars, phones, planes, mega-farms instead of family farming communities, factories, electricity, they all changed the lives of people just like the internet will.

I think the question is, should we try to stop change, force change to happen as slowely as possible, or quickly embrace it?

-Brent
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Re: I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#15)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 02:42:32 PM EST

Most innovations caused changes to society. Sure, life changed, but people got use to it and soon forgot the life they lost.

That's why I pointed out the quote about TV in the article. Funny story-- doing research for a paper in college, my roommate came across a cartoon from the New Yorker that ran in the late 30's or very early 40's, when TV was brand new. This cartoon is of a family, sitting in their living room, watching a TV set that's sitting on a shelf against the wall. So we look at this cartoon, and say "Huh?" cause it's just a family watching TV. But when it first ran, it was funny. The idea of a family sitting around staring into this little box on the wall was so odd as to be humorous. That's how much attitudes can change in 50 years. Really, I think it probably was about 20 years before that cartoon wasn't funny anymore, and was just a normal picture of every day life.

Technology always changes us, and we always change it. And someone's always gonna be around to fret about it.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#16)
by ramses0 on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 03:14:28 PM EST

I have to agree- This story could have just as easily read:

"TV is causing people to avoid social contact..."
-or-
"The prevalance of the Discotheque has reduced the amount of meaningful relationships..."

The fact is that -everything- we do takes away from something that we used to do... it often comes down to a question of whether we gain a large benefit from the new activity.

I'd like to hear what people think, specifically about:
1) has the internet helped you?
2) has the internet hurt you?
3) what would make the internet better?

...within the context of personal relationships such as this article has talked about.

--Robert
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]
Re: I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#11)
by dblslash on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 02:14:03 PM EST

First off, I love the new feature for posting the moderators' comments, rusty. It does means that I'll have to start thinking more about what I write in story moderation, though. :)

As to life... I'm not sure if perhaps my current isolation isn't preferable to constant immersion in other people. I'm usually disgusted, or at the very least, horribly depressed by my brief contacts with society at large. What the article failed to look into, I think, was whether or not I prefer working or surfing the web rather than going out. I enjoy my work, and I enjoy the people I work with. I suppose, though, that I'm lucky enough to have a pretty decent environment here where we can play around and still accomplish something during the day. I can empathize with those polled in the article in that my work life encompasses my personal life, or vice versa, if you prefer, but I don't think that that is a result of my Net use. It's a result of me working with my friends. It's quite possible to relax together while working, if you enjoy your work, and those you work with.

A brief aside: I also love reading about others' lives, as well. When I think about my online reading habits, it almost seems voyeuristic, but I greatly enjoy reading online journals, or the meandering thoughts of random people. There's quite a lot of that on the Net. For instance, most of the earlier articles posted on kuro5hin were simply rusty wondering out loud, or talking about his rather embarassing exploits. I really get a kick out of reading peoples' reactions to day-to-day experiences.

[ Parent ]

Re: I have a life, thank you. I love he... (none / 0) (#14)
by rusty on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 02:36:49 PM EST

I love the new feature for posting the moderators' comments, rusty.

Thanks. I have to think more about what I say now too. If there's no comment attached to a vote, it won't be posted with the story though. So if you have nothing to say, just don't.

As for reading about other's lives, I often like doing that too. The problem with it is it lets you know them in a way that perhaps even their best friends don't, if they don't read the journal too. But you still don't really know someone from online postings, I think. I don't know... it's a thorny issue.

I like reading journals so much though that I do intend to provide the individual diary feature thing here. And probably even allow comments (if the user chooses) to the diary entries. Why the hell not, right? :-) It should be interesting.

Working on search features right now. Look for that later. And everyone, do read the article dblslash linked to in "embarrasing exploits" if you haven't. It amuses the hell out of me. And it really is true.

And, amazingly, they still signed the contracts after that! So there you go...

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Could be interesting if enough repl... (none / 0) (#5)
by Strange Charmed One on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 12:07:49 PM EST

Strange Charmed One voted 1 on this story.

Could be interesting if enough replys are given
--
Feel the urge to put excessively cute little quotes into your .sig?

JUST SAY NO!

If you or one of your friends is frequently plagued by this tendency, Help IS available- Ask me how.

Post it.... (none / 0) (#3)
by joeyo on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 12:37:40 PM EST

joeyo voted 1 on this story.

Post it.

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

Interesting.. I wouldn't blame isol... (none / 0) (#2)
by dblslash on Wed Feb 16, 2000 at 01:05:13 PM EST

dblslash voted 1 on this story.

Interesting.. I wouldn't blame isolation on Net use, though.

Have You Ever Been Lonely? | 22 comments (22 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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