When Data Makes You Say, “So What?”

The New York Times reports on a study about the internet and socializing. Guess what? The more time you spend online, the less face-to-face contact you have!

Um, so what? The tone of the piece suggests this is a bad thing. You get statements like: “According to the study, an hour of time spent using the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens sleep by 8.5 minutes.”

Um. Okay. Could you distinguish between friends, coworkers, and family for me? Because I purposefully *use* the internet to have less face-to-face time with coworkers. It’s called telecommuting. It allows me to have more control over other parts of my life. Like socializing. With friends. And family.

Without reading the original research (it’s not yet published online), I can only assume the Times reporter, John Markoff, isn’t a very deep thinker, if he can’t distinguish between types of face-to-face interaction.

5 thoughts on “When Data Makes You Say, “So What?”

  1. hmmm … 60 minutes doing activity X results in (23.5+10+8.5) minutes not doing something else. Sounds like I’m getting an extra 18 minutes a day for free :-)

  2. Telecommuting might be okay for the work place, but telecommunicating is an extremely low, and even dangerous level of socializing. It is no substitute for face-to-face and body contact.

    I have warm relations and interesting conversations with all my immediate family and friends. Our email and chat exchanges, however, are invariably curt and. though seemingly to the point, almost never fully, or even reasonably, resolve a pending issue. Peterme, for instance, seldom replies fully, if at all, to questions I email without having to repeat the content again, and sometimes again. Eventually, a phone call, while not face-to-face, provides an electronically superior voice-to-voice contact that produces better results, as well as warmth, humor and pleasure.

    Cyberspace is dead and cold and cybernauts should only enter its weightless, airless atmosphere with proper concern and care for the limits placed on human life therein.

  3. I respectfully disagree with BJMe.

    This new and ever expanding medium of communication has expanded my personal options to make friends, communicate with all sorts of diverse people – and there is always a person at the other end. It challenges my abiltiy to be articulate and exposes me to an endless lot of converstaion and topic that i otherwise would not find accessable.

    I am infact closer to my kids and my family because of my abilty to communicate via text message, email, chat, photos over phone etc…

    I, like Peter, choose to use my telecommuting and ease of keeping up with all others, to make better use of my personal time. My dog get’s walked more, my friend accross town who doesn’t get out has a DAILY conversation with me on AIM. We used to talk twice a year! I can get and give warmth and pleasure from reading… Cyberspace is an place to uphold and expand your human spirit and share it with as many others.

  4. I respectfully disagree with BJMe.

    This new and ever expanding medium of communication has expanded my personal options to make friends, communicate with all sorts of diverse people – and there is always a person at the other end. It challenges my abiltiy to be articulate and exposes me to an endless lot of converstaion and topic that i otherwise would not find accessable.

    I am infact closer to my kids and my family because of my abilty to communicate via text message, email, chat, photos over phone etc…

    I, like Peter, choose to use my telecommuting and ease of keeping up with all others, to make better use of my personal time. My dog get’s walked more, my friend accross town who doesn’t get out has a DAILY conversation with me on AIM. We used to talk twice a year! I can get and give warmth and pleasure from reading… Cyberspace is an place to uphold and expand your human spirit and share it with as many others.

  5. It seems like BJMe is able to communicate pretty well with me.
    My lack of ability to articulate using acceptable syntax, grammar and spelling hasn’t hampered the ability to be understood.
    I think my post might have been confused with a conversation about the quality of my public education.