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Does the Internet Make You More — Or Less — Connected?
Some interesting NPR reporting by Dave Pell
The only time I really experience any self-reflection these days is when my computer sleeps and my screen goes dark.
And I’m not alone. According to Pew, 42 percent of cell owners used their phone for entertainment when they were bored. If those 42 percent of people are anything like me, that so-called boredom now arrives sooner than the random thoughts that can lead to self-reflection, creativity or just a few seconds of nothingness. I can draw my phone faster than my mind can wander.
Of course, the draw of our devices is about more than relieving boredom (a goal the devices only occasionally achieve). It’s about getting a fix; reacting to a feeling of urgency that you’ve got to keep up with whatever it is that’s coming into your stream right now. Part of the power of the realtime web is that it can quickly make you feel like you can’t live without a flow of data that you easily lived without before you discovered it.
That’s the Internet’s reverse placebo effect: you feel as though you were missing something important before you signed up for the latest service. It’s a drug for an ailment you never had.