McKenzie Wark on Tue, 22 Feb 2000 01:26:47 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> NYT: Portrait of a Newer, Lonelier Crowd

The Lonely Sociologist:

"In short, "the more hours people use the Internet, the less
time they spend with real human beings," said Norman Nie, a
political scientist at Stanford University who was the
principal investigator for the study."

Presumably everyone on the net is talking to bots, and don't
realise it. What's curious about this article is that, far from
showing what a menace the net is, it shows the pernicious
influence of sociologists. For some strange reason, a discipline
that makes a fetish of bracketting of the inter-human element
in communication and taking it to be a moral primary is allowed
to make ill informed pronouncements on the relation *between*
mediated and non-mediated human interaction. The actual data
quoted in the Times article is interesting enough, in that at
least it confirms what most people already know: the big loser
in terms of what people give up for time on the net is time 
watching television. 

But really, this attempt to renew the relevance of sociology in
a post-social world must be resisted, as must the rather hilarious
assertion of face to face interaction as a good, compared to
mediated communication which is assumed in the study to lack
something by comparison. Sociology's one virtue is that it has
shown just how harmful to human well being face to face contact
really is. As all the studies show. Child abuse, rape and murder
are most common in the most intimate of domestic settings. The
more face to face the relationship -- the more dangerous it is!


McKenzie Wark
Guest Scholar, American Studies, New York University
"We no longer have origins we have terminals"

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