Not actually the root of all evil:

In what was described as the first detailed survey of its kind, released last weekend, researchers reported that family life has not been weakened, as many had feared, by new technology. Rather, families have compensated for the stress and hurry of modern life with cell phone calls, e-mail and text messages and other new forms of communication.

“There had been some fears that the Internet had been taking people away from each other,” said Barry Wellman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto and one of the authors of the report, published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. “We found just the opposite.”

In the poll, 60 percent of adults said that the new technologies did not affect the closeness of their family, while 25 percent said cell phones and online communication made their families closer and 11 percent said that the technology had a negative effect.

It’s easy to deplore anything new as the easy way out, to lean back against the wall of the hipster bar and cock your hat and talk longingly of the days when things werereal, man, when it was about the music, and whatnot. I think everybody who writes went through that phase where only a typewriter would do, because it made the teen angst poetry you were pounding out seem like elevated expressions of the darkness within us all, instead of just self-indulgent crap anybody and everybody scrawled in journals.

I’m as guilty of this as anybody else; I love my No. 9 Oliver typewriter that looks like something out of a steampunk fantasy and weighs as much as an anchor like I love my own left breast, but without e-mail and especailly Facebook, I’d have lost touch with half the people I know long ago. I save almost all of my e-mail like people used to save their letters; I don’t feel the words have any less value because I read them on a screen instead of on paper. And I’ll fight you to the death over whether print is dead (it isn’t, except in cases where it’s being murdered; more on that later this week) but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally turn on the wireless to get news through the airwaves. It’s not the tools. It’s the use to which you put them.


4 thoughts on “Interwebs

  1. I usually wait several incarnations before I’ll accept new technology, to find out which things are worth spending my money on. If I had little ones today I would probably have micro-chipped them or something. But I didn’t wait very long when cell phones started to become affordable. Both kids got them pronto. How else could I have found out at 2 a.m. one morning that my daughter and her girlfriend had decided one night to drive from Wisconsin to Florida in her friend’s crap car without telling anyone, and were currently breezing through Kentucky? The peace of mind that comes from knowing where your kids are at all times is priceless, just priceless I tell you.

  2. I find it highly amusing that so many people are worried about family life weakening when me and people like me are actively out to get rid of the current model of the family, that craptacular artifice of the 1950s. As Winston Smith once put it, “One nuclear family can ruin your whole life.” Folks, ain’t nuthin’ there worth saving; throw it on the ash heap of history and make something better. You’ll be happier for it in the long run, and so will your kids and your kids’ kids…

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