Technology and Sense of Isolation

There has been a lot of buzz about technology’s negative impact on in-person engagement, but a 2009 Pew Center for Internet and American Life survey revealed some surprisingly encouraging facts. For instance, Pew found that, despite the smaller number of people in the average American’s “discussion network” in 2009 vs. in 1985, those who had cell phones and used the internet more had more diverse discussion networks.  The study challenged common perceptions that the internet pulls people away from local connections, chance meetings in public places like cafes, and neighborhood engagement, instead finding that internet usage often facilitated these types of interactions. Of course, it is common sense that hibernating with your laptop can create a sense of social isolation, but the Pew survey provides strong evidence against alarmist views of technology’s impact on our social lives.

--Liz Soltan