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Web > Friends, sex?

weblife.jpg

 It's called a laptop for more than one reason...

Weren't there stories just like this about the invention of the telephone? These kinds of reports mystify me, as if they're coming from someplace in the distant past and have only just now reached our present:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Surfing the net has become an obsession for many Americans with the majority of U.S. adults feeling they cannot go for a week without going online and one in three giving up friends and sex for the Web. [...]

"People told us how anxious, isolated and bored they felt when they are forced offline," said Ann Mack, director of trend spotting at JWT, which conducted the survey to see how technology was changing people's behavior.

"They felt disconnected from the world, from their friends and family," she told Reuters.

The poll, released on Wednesday, found the use of cell phones and the Internet were becoming more and more an essential part of life with 48 percent of respondents agreeing they felt something important was missing without Internet access.

More than a quarter of respondents -- or 28 percent -- admitted spending less time socializing face-to-face with peers because of the amount of time they spend online.

It also found that 20 percent said they spend less time having sex because they are online.

Cell phones won out over television in a question asking which device people couldn't go without but the Internet trumped all, regarded as the most necessary.

"It is taking away from offline activities, among them having sex, socializing face-to-face, watching TV and reading newspapers and magazines. It cuts into that share," said Mack. [...]

"We are calling them 'digitivity denizens,' those who see their cell phones as an extension of themselves, whose online and offline lives are co-mingled and who would chose a Wi-Fi connection over TV any day," said Mack.

"This is how they communicate, entertain and live."

To which I want to say: "Duh." Talk to David Cronenberg about the use of technology as an extension of the human body and mind. He's been making movies about it for 30-something years. (Oh, and I don't think the term "digitivity denizens" is going to catch on. I'll be mortified if it does.)

Wouldn't the planet as a whole be a lot healthier if we used the web more and our cars less? Is the web allowing us to remain more in touch (and with more people) and do a better job of filtering out the people we don't want to have much contact with? Don't e-mail, chat and text technologies allow us more opportunities for instantaneous and regular contact with our real friends, regardless of geographical distance? Is there anything worse than being physically present in a room with people you don't want to be around? Is that not a terrible waste of the very essence of life -- your enjoyment of how you spend it? Is e-mail not more reliable and efficient than exchanging phone calls involving logistical or practical details? Do web services (bill-paying, prescription ordering, online scheduling, shopping, etc.) not reduce the time and drudgery expended on routine household maintenance tasks and errands (not to mention the cost parking and gasoline and the inconvenience of waiting on hold or in line)? On the other hand, isn't Scanners better than sex, anyway? (Don't answer that.)

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