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Internet to Blame for Lack of Close Friends 361

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the lack-of-drinking-buddies dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "Duke and University of Arizona researchers are citing the Internet as one of the main contributing factors to a shrinking of social networks among Americans. People say they have fewer people they can talk to about important stuff, even if they are talking to lots more people from all over the place about unimportant stuff online."
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Internet to Blame for Lack of Close Friends

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  • stuff that matters? (Score:3, Informative)

    by russellh (547685) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @03:33PM (#15597334) Homepage
    I talk about that on the internet all the time.
  • by nahdude812 (88157) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @03:39PM (#15597364) Homepage
    Maybe I'm not the demographic being described by the article, but I believe I have more close friends than I would w/o the Internet. I have my real life friends, some of whom have been my friends for more than half my life, and I have close friends I met online, and only know from online. Some of these people I've never met in real life, yet I'm comfortable enough to confide in them and look to them for advice.

    I don't use MySpace, I don't participate in social networking sites, yet I've still managed to encounter other minds like mine; minds I can learn from, and minds I can teach. Having an online life doesn't preclude me from having an offline life, and indeed they supplement each other.

    Finally, the Internet has greatly facilitated maintaining offline friendships that would have dissolved for geographic reasons. These friendships have moved online, and if not for the Internet, we might write a letter once a month or so. Instead I talk to these people daily. We also game together, so on a typical Friday night, a half dozen of my real life (offline) friends and I meet up and slay Onyxia or run Molten Core together when it would be logistically infeasible for us to meet in person.
  • by TheGreatDonkey (779189) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:54PM (#15598834)
    I just wrote my a paper for an interpersonal communications class on this very subject and finished it about literally 4 hours ago, so how odd this comes up on Slashdot. To summarize why I disagree with the assessment from my simple minded point of view:

    In-Person relationships are based on a whole stage process that psychology has spent many, many years developing and refining. It is actually a fairly interesting model, and does seem applicable in many situations. The methods of how we communicate and open up to each other now with Instant Messanger, Slashdot message boards, BBS's, FidoNet, or whatever completely takes a lot of these concepts and throws them out the window. This is of great confusion to some by-the-book psychologists, and therefore, I cannot tell you how many articles I had to parse over in terms of "Whats Better: In-Person Relationships or Cyberspace Relationships." For example, http://www.rider.edu/users/suler/psycyber/showdown .html [rider.edu]

    The author contrasts online versus in-person relationships and cyberspace relationships and which type might be better. He specifically poses the questions, "Is it true that real relationships ...are superior ... or relationships in cyberspace better?" I really don't see much value in generalizing both and making such vast assumptions about how either works or which is "better" than the other, though I can appreciate the author's efforts at trying to present a well thought article contrasting the two.

    The author only hints at one such reason why I feel the generalization isn't necessarily fair - "some people may not have the opportunity to develop good relationships in person." If someone is homebound, due to physical limitations or even mental impairment, a potential relationship in cyberspace may be that individuals only avenue or gaining some form of positive communication with the outside world. This contrasts to them living a depressed life as a hermit, and contemplating such things as suicide. I am absolutely confident that even simple online communication has given people a feeling of participating in the real world and prevented suicides.

    Additionally, cyberspace allows us to discuss things that we may not normally feel comfortable discussing in person. I had a friend who was vastly overweight and joined several online chat groups to learn more about gastric bypass, developed many close relationships with people in different online groups, learned much about the procedure and its effects on your personal life, and recently underwent the surgery. I am confident that he would not have simply walked into a support meeting initially searching for information on this, as it just was not in his nature. Near strangers online confided in him very personal information about how this surgery affected their lives, and I don't believe these barriers would have been anywhere near as easily climbed in person.

    I was a groomsman in a wedding a couple of years ago for my friend Aaron, and his wife Tiffanie. He was an office manager living in New Hampshire, and she was finishing a communications degree and lived in Montana (she was also a former Miss Teen Montana). He is a great guy, and most girls regard him as pretty decent looking, though he is very shy and had an extremely difficult time working out relationships with women. He met Tiffanie online in a Yahoo chat forum years ago, and they built a relationship from that point. They learned about each other, started to share secrets and personal information, and truly learned about each others values. This then transpired into phone conversations, and eventually they flew back and forth to meet each other, converting into an in-person relationship. They have been married several years now, and I can honestly say that they are the happiest couple I know.

    I think a better argument is to recognize online chatting for what it is, an
  • by feder (307335) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:44AM (#15603967)
    This point is actually far from "missed by most everyone". The phenomenon is called exclusivism [wikipedia.org] and is often discussed in research dealing with virtual communities.

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington

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