[p2p-research] Hermit Nation: Does Tech Boost Social Isolation?

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Fri Nov 6 21:18:47 CET 2009

“We find that the extent of social isolation has hardly changed since 1985, 
contrary to concerns that the prevalence of severe isolation has tripled 
since then,” Pew researchers report. The survey, released yesterday, also 
found that the overall diversity of the average person’s social network — 
including close family and friends as well as acquaintances — is greater 
through usage of social networks such as Facebook: “For instance, frequent 
Internet users and those who maintain a blog are much more likely to confide 
in someone who is of another race.”
   Internet use does not pull people away from places such as parks, cafes 
and restaurants, Pew researchers conclude: “Internet access has become a 
common component of people’s experiences within many public spaces.” Also, 
in opposition to the conclusion that Internet usage primarily bridges gaps 
between people who are geographically far from each other, the survey found 
that there is little difference between local social usage of technology and 
distant communication. The following graphic based on the survey results 
shows that people who belong to a neighborhood online forum are much likely 
than the average person to have diverse interactions with neighbors: ...
   Younger people are overwhelmingly more likely to belong to social 
networks than older people are, the Pew survey also finds, and it’s worth 
noting that all the people surveyed were over 18. Results could be different 
for teenagers and children. There are many more findings and graphics from 
the survey, found here.  For the most part, although your smartphone still 
doesn’t make you the life of the party, the results argue against the 
long-standing presumption that technology usage is social poison.

But, if you are staying indoors a lot, be sure to get enough vitamin D3: :-)

--Paul Fernhout

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