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Benkler: Internet Equals More People Ties, Less TV

I have been away from blogging this weekend to put some time in with my family. It’s a good way to introduce the Social Ties chapter of Yochai Benkler’s book The Wealth of Networks in which he writes about how are our lives, and those we reach out to, are impacted by the Internet.

Benkler says our ties with family and friends have “thickened” thanks to the Internet, adding:

As best we can tell from contemporary social science, Internet use increases the contract that people have with others who traditionally have been seen as forming a person’s “community”: family , friends, and neighbors. Moreover, the Internet is also used a platform for forging new relationships….

Of course, heavy Internet users know that is true. We are in touch with family members thanks to IM or email much more than was possible in the past. In fact, one study Benkler points to indicates that people who use email are more in touch with their nearby neighbors than people who aren’t on the Internet.

At the same time Benkler says:

We are beginning to see the emergence of greater scope for limit-purpose, loose relationships…but still meaningful social networks.

Of course, that is true for me as a blogger. I have met dozens of people from the Atlanta area to around the world thanks to my blog and the Internet. These are those loose relationships, but still meaningful networks.

So if we are spending more time on the Internet and we have thickened our ties with family and friends and formed new networks of people with whom we communicate; so, how are we finding the time to do it? Benkler says according to empirical evidence:

It now seems clear that Internet users “buy” their time to use the Internet by watching less television, and that the more Internet experience they have, the less they watch TV.

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One Response to “Benkler: Internet Equals More People Ties, Less TV”

  1. Grayson Says:

    I’ve found myself, sadly, becoming increasingly distanced from and way out of touch with family members who are not (by choice) online. And I’ve found myself gravitating and connecting much more towards friends who also blog, as opposed to those who do not.