Sunday, June 25, 2006

Use the Internet - lose friends

Network World reports on a new study indicating that the number of “confidants“ of Americans has decreased by a third. Their headline reads, ”"Study: Internet partly to blame for your lack of close friends”. Then they followed with this:

Increased use of the Internet, along with the number of hours people are spending at work, are factors contributing to a drastic decline in the number of close friends that Americans have.

That got my attention, and I decided to go find the research article: Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades.

Read the Network World article, and then read the research, and tell me how you can possibly conclude that the Internet is causing people to lose friends? It‘s not in the research, and the authors certainly don‘t make that conclusion. This is a significant piece of research for a number of reasons, but not for what it says about technology‘s impact on society. I suspect that this study will get a lot of play in the popular press. I‘ll be curious to see just how widely the study is misinterpreted. If Network World‘s coverage is an early indicator it could be very entertaining.

No comments: