Re: Internet causes loneliness

Joseph M. Reagle Jr. (reagle@MIT.EDU)
Mon, 31 Aug 1998 21:08:23 -0400

At 10:13 AM 8/31/98 -0400, Nelson Minar wrote:
>I think it's interesting that folks here on FoRK have all felt the
>need to criticize this study. I felt somewhat defensive when first
>reading it myself - I also grew up in front of a terminal (in all
>senses of "grow up"). But if a well designed study found a correlation
>between net usage and unhappiness, well, that's interesting.

I actually don't feel defensive about it. My own gut instinct is that often
people "waste" a great deal of time on-line and become more isolated than
they need to.

>I haven't read the article yet either, so I can't comment much more
>than that. I thought Amy Harmon's NYT article was very responsible and
>interesting. It's worth taking a look at the study itself.

Yea, she did a pretty good job. But she did not make as clean a break on
causality as she might have, but then again, the study might assert
causality, so its foolish to fault her reporting until I can see the study.
Note, her first sentence reads:

... CMU have found that people who spend
even a few hours a week online experience higher levels of
depression and
loneliness than they would have if they used the computer network

This does not say "those that spend a few hours on line are more likely to
be depressed than those that do not," rather it predicates two modes of
behavior to an individual based on their Internet use. "If you hadn't used
the Internet, you wouldn't be depress;" I can only read this as causality.

>>CMU is also the place where the Rimm "Porn is Everywhere" study was
>>done and was the basis of Time's Net Porn coverage.
>I wouldn't blame CMU for Rimm. Some colleagues of mine who follow this
>kind of research much more closely say the team that did the report
>has an excellent reputation.

I wasn't casting aspersions upon all of CMU, rather the phenomena of media
jumping on a study and hyping the results prior to its publication.

Joseph Reagle E0 D5 B2 05 B6 12 DA 65 BE 4D E3 C1 6A 66 25 4E
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