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Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Internet And Happiness

(For politics, please scroll down)

In my own experience, interacting on the web can be discouraging and enervating — especially when engaging in political discussions during the almost election cycles. Furthermore, some studies have indicated that so much involvement in the Digital Age has negative repercussions, including computer vision syndrome, depression, and Internet addiction disorder — to name only a few of a myriad of negative consequences.

According to this recent article in the Washington Post, however:
The Internet actually makes us happier, science says

According to a strain of trend piece popular in certain circles these days, the Web is some kind of social parasite, eating our decency and confidence and good humor away. It’s filled us with FOMO; it’s made us fake; it’s torpedoed love and intimacy.

It’s also, per a new paper, made us measurably happier as a society.

The paper, titled “Life Satisfaction in the Internet Age” and forthcoming in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, is the first to study the long-term, at-scale impact of the Internet on personal satisfaction. The researchers — both of whom are based out of Israeli universities — analyzed almost a decade of data from Israel’s Annual Social Surveys, encompassing responses from more than 70,000 people.

Through a series of statistical models, they were then able to isolate the specific relationship between Internet adoption (which is up in the past decade) and self-described life satisfaction (which is up slightly among most people, and stable among seniors).

The TL;DR: Internet users are more satisfied with their lives than non-users, and Internet adoption over the past decade has directly (and positively!) impacted life-satisfaction. Those effects are especially pronounced among the elderly, the poor and the ill or handicapped....
Read the rest HERE.

The end of the article asks an important question: what would it feel like if you didn’t even have the Internet?

Perhaps our relationship with the Internet is a love-hate relationship.

I go back and forth between decrying the Internet, especially the acerbity of political blogging, and being grateful that we have such a wonderful research and social tool at our fingertips.

What is your view on this topic?


  1. InActivity < InterPassivity < InterActivity

    I think that it depends Upon "where", in the above scale, you existed "before" the Internet. IMO, the Internet qualifies as Interpassive behaviour.

    1. Come on ducky... can't I get you to engage as much as Brecht could? ;)

      Would it help if I hummed the Alabama song?

  2. Define internet. Define happiness.
    If the internet is instagram, et al. I wouldn't know.
    If it is youtube and shows me how to change my friends half axle in my garage while we fellowship with coffee installing parts he ordered at low cost through Rock Auto?
    I'm happy.
    If I watch a bunch of stuff that makes me dissatisfied with what I currently have, it's no different from a number of motorcycle and computer (and gun) magazines designed to do the same while advertising where I may buy the stuff supposed to make me happy. I no longer subscribe.

    1. Ed,
      No doubt about it: we can find instructions for almost any home or car repair on YouTube.

      I even found there the step-by-step instructions for how to help Mr. AOW's put on his neuro-sling.

      And great music!

      And on and on.

      What a resource YouTube is!

      PS: I don't have a clue about Instagram. Facebook, though, helps me to keep up with my former students and distant family.

  3. I am an old-fashioned person, so I think the internet and the attendant technology, like smart phones have done more damage than good. We used to get along just fine without all that crap.

    It is turning us into socially-stunted morons, it ratchets up anxiety by bringing us all the world's problems, hypochondriacs now have vast digital catalogs of diseases and affliction they had never dreamed of, all this information... and what are we doing with it?

    On a more classically romantic note, the Internet has robbed the world and everything in it of its mystery.

    1. SF,
      Well, if not for the Internet and a certain circle of bloggers, I don't know what I'd have done in those weeks after I brought Mr. AOW out of the nursing home.

      The Merry Widow, a former blogger is a circle of blogging buddies, dropped everything and came up here from Florida to help me tend Mr. AOW. If not for her, I'd have died from exhaustion -- and maybe starvation.

      I had quite a time at the airport when I went to pick up TMW. I'd never met her in person before that time.

    2. Typo alert!

      "a former blogger is" should read "a former blogger in."

      Error made because I'm on the phone with TMW right this very minute.

    3. @SF,

      "It is turning us into socially-stunted morons"

      I think that's especially true of, so called, "smart phones"!

    4. Smart Phones Make Stupid People. ;-)

    5. I couldn't agree more with what Silverfiddle said.....
      BUT.....The thing great thing I love is that I can find out ANYTHING sitting right here at my desk; BUT... that means I don't take a walk to the library, I don't exchange pleasantries with the librarian, I don't feel the autumn breeze on my face as I bring my book home with happy anticipation...

      uhoh. As I said: he's RIGHT! Ooh, for the days when we hadn't all this information coming at us like a freight train........
      and oh, for the strength to shut it all off. But I can't.
      Who could?

    6. I couldn't agree more with what Silverfiddle said.....
      The thing I love is that I can find out ANYTHING sitting right here at my desk; and that means I don't take a walk to the library, I don't exchange pleasantries with the librarian, I don't feel the autumn breeze on my face as I bring my book home with happy anticipation...

      uhoh. As I said: he's RIGHT!

  4. I have mixed feelings about the internet. I'm of the general opinion that Facebook is the sign of the Apocalypse. The internet in general has given voice to many great ideas and commentary...that would otherwise be lost to mankind. But the internet has also given voice to those who shouldn't post something in public, without adult supervision. These people are generally the ones who use venues such as FB, like a gossip mill....and thus, will quickly get the little feelings hurt if someone says something untoward. These venues are obviously here to stay, and will only become more prevalent......but for every common good that comes with this ease of widespread communication, I foresee social trouble as its handmaiden.

  5. If not for the internet, I'd be typing my blog and handing it out on street corners...

  6. The Internet swamps us in information. We either use or misuse it according to our proclivities and the nature of our dispositions and the filters we have erected.

    The Internet is an profound extension of our personal and educational communications. Much like a gun, neither good nor evil, only a tool to be used as we see fit, good bad or indifferent.

    1. Warren,
      Yes, very much like a gun, neither inherently good nor inherently evil.

      I do worry about children, ages 2-13 and their massive use -- and misuse -- of the tools of the Digital Age.

      A lot of my students claim that they know how to use the web. Then I come to learn that they don't know how to make use of Google search to do research related to school assignments that I give! And many of these students have taken some kind of computer course. Go figure.

    2. I don't think its just children. I don't really have any interaction with teens or younger. Its some of the "adults" that worry me.

      Sometimes I get asked a complicated question and realize that the person asking it doesn't have the basic knowledge to understand the answer.

      I've also noticed the curse of the iphone. My 38 year old son uses his as a communications device and business tool. It seems to me that a lot of people turn themselves into idiot savants, answering questions they don't understand and storing pictures and pornography on their not so smart phones.

      Don't know what the square root of 64 is, look it up on your smart phone. Don't know what a square root is, look it up on your smart phone. Still don't know, don't bother, look up Kim Kardashian on your smart phone.

  7. The internet is mostly a positive for people who wish to research on their own and are savvy enough to filter out the cons.
    As with anything, we will all be exposed to unsavory elements as we explore, as the world itself is chock full of unsavory elements. You have to just ignore the A's and keep it positive. The A's simply aren't worth the time of day. Would you go to an expensive restaurant and ask to be seated next to the loudmouth annoying kids who have parents completely incompetent in controlling them? Course not. So, to avoid that on the net, you simply don't read the excrement filled diatribe from people like rn, duck, mcjiggers, etc. Just hit Next. It's that simple.

    Otherwise, contrary to the predictions of the 'experts' the internet as not separated/isolated people, it has brought them together. I'm talking about sane people here.

  8. Kid...I don't know, most of us are trying to be "savvy enough to filter out the" libs :-) Couldn't resist.
    I do agree that a positive of the internet puts people together...how would we ALL KNOW EACH OTHER, right? Well said.

  9. I think I'd be happier without the internet in my life.

    Several times a year, I do a digital "fast", and I always feel so much more alive after about two days without internet / email / etc.

    the question then is...why do I keep coming back? :p

    For me, sitting still is the hardest thing. Really just sitting still with no distractions. The internet is such an easy distraction when I'm feeling anxious or sad.

  10. The internet may
    Be as great as they say,
    But it wouldn't be missed
    If it didn't exist.

    ~ Adapted from Grooks by Piet Hein

    1. FT,
      One good thing about the Internet....

      The way that I use the web for my lessons plans and presentations saves paper!


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