Archive for Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Internet’s web puts new light on conversing

February 7, 2001

A sociology professor at the University of Kansas, says the Internet, like its predecessors, radio, telephone and television, is more than what it appears to be.

"Quite clearly, the Internet is having an impact on all kinds of areas of social life," said Bill Staples.

There are those who eschew the Internet, saying it's an impersonal form of communication.

Staples, who's been using e-mail for 20 years, doesn't think so.

He referred to a Canadian study in which all the houses in a town were connected by broad-band Internet access.

"It did seem to increase the amount of connectivity that people had," Staples said.

Staples said the Internet lends itself to a deeper form of communication.

"It seems that Internet users get very personal using it," Staples said. "In a way it's like the confessional in the Catholic church, you're behind a screen and there's the very fact that they can't look at your face."

An e-mail exchange, or friendship can very quickly become close, in the sense of sharing deep thoughts and feelings, Staples said.

"It evokes intimacy in a way that other technologies don't," he added. "You're expressing things or emotions that you wouldn't say if you were talking to a stranger that you'd just been introduced to."

Of course, that can have a down side, Staples said:

"If you log onto a chat room on the Internet and somebody says he's six-foot, two-inches, has blond hair, blue eyes and is an athletic god, do you believe that's the case?"

Commenting has been disabled for this item.