Magazine article ADWEEK

Internet Loners as Modern Myth

Magazine article ADWEEK

Internet Loners as Modern Myth

Article excerpt

It has become one of the familiar stereo-types of the Internet age: the lonely soul who stares at a computer screen all day instead of interacting (whether electronically or face-to-face) with his fellow human beings. But a report released this month by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project rebuts the notion that Internet usage comes in tandem with social isolation.

First of all, social isolation remains much more the exception than the rule in this country. Extrapolating from polling data gathered during the summer of 2008, the report says that "Only 6 percent of the adult population has no one with whom they can discuss important matters or who they consider to be 'especially significant' in their life."

As the chart here shows, Internet users are a shade less likely than respondents in general to say they have no "core network" of people in their lives. And, as you can also see, they're a little more likely than adults generally to have larger numbers of people in their network.

Moreover, the core "discussion network" of an Internet user is less apt to consist solely of family members. "Whereas only 45 percent of Americans discuss important matters with someone who is not a family member," says the report, "Internet users are 55 percent more likely to have a non-kin discussion partner."

The study also disputes the notion that engagement with the Internet displaces participation in one's local community, finding that "most Internet activities have little or a positive relationship to local activity. …

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