Re: Internet causes loneliness

Audris Shau (
Sun, 30 Aug 1998 10:34:16 -0300

Considering that these people spent millions of dollars on this study, I
don't think their results were particularly exciting. And I am actually
disappointed that the NYT used this study to make a story out of it.

The results of this study seem more to prove something about people's
expectations of the net.

The net is useful for plenty of things, as we all know. But I believe that
the most fundamental basis of true friendships and relationships is human
interaction - face to face and at the very least, voice to voice.

Basing a friendship or relationship on the internet and expecting more from
the net than it can really provide is sure to cause dissapointment. If
people use the internet to make a new friend, or use it as a substitute to
phone calls, visits, dinners, etc. in maintaining a relationship, of course
they're going to find that it just isn't as fulfilling as a rel. that has
some amount of personal contact.

So, I think I understand where the article is trying to come from. I see a
possibility where people become upset because the Net fails to meet certain
(impossible?) expectations. However, I am very skeptical about the process
of their study, and also don't agree with the causal relationship they find
between the Internet and people's psyches.


-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Masnick <>
To: <>;
Date: Sunday, August 30, 1998 3:55 PM
Subject: Internet causes loneliness

>Lovely story from the NYTimes (in the Edupage condensed version below). I
>can already see the backlash. My own take is that I would like to see the
>study's methodology (I'm about to go looking for it), as they even admit
>that it wasn't a random sample. This seems like just another example of
>the NYTimes looking for a story that makes the internet look bad. Every
>time I see people complain about things like this, I think a lot of it has
>to do with the fact that people just are too naive about the 'net. They
>think it's easy and simple. Fact is, you need some form of "Internet
>street smarts" to be comfortable. Those folks who are comfortable with
>Internet do just fine, for the most part.
>I'm sure for some people the internet really does allow them to create
>shallow friendships. Hell, when I first got on the Internet, I'm sure I
>created some shallow friendships as well. I probably spent a bit less time
>talking to friends and family. Then I got the hang of it, and things have
>worked out fine.
>Any thoughts?
> -Mike
>From Edupage:
>A two-year, $1.5-million study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon
>funded by the National Science Foundation and major technology companies,
>has concluded that Internet use appears to cause a decline in psychological
>well-being. A director of the study says, "We are not talking here about
>the extremes. These were normal adults and their families, and on average,
>for those who used the Internet most, things got worse." One hour a week
>Internet use led on average to an increase of 1% on the depression scale,
>increase of 0.04% on the loneliness scale, and a loss of 2.7 members of the
>subject's social circle (which averaged 66 people). Although the study
>participants used e-mail, chat rooms, and other social features of the
>Internet to interact with others, they reported a decline in interaction
>with their own family members and a reduction in their circles of friends.
>"Our hypothesis is, there are more cases where you're building shallow
>relationships [on the Internet], leading to an overall decline in feeling
>connection to other people." Since the 169 study participants, all from the
>Pittsburgh area, were not chosen in a random selection process, it is not
>clear how the findings apply to the general population, but a RAND
>Corporation senior scientist says, "They did an extremely careful
>scientific study, and it's not a result that's easily ignored." (New York
>Times 30 Aug 98)