The Internet’s Effect on Relationships: Detrimental or Beneficial The 'Net indeed plays a convincing role as a surrogate reality for those who become addicted to it. Not only can its users use electronic mail (e-mail), a method of instantly contacting anyone across the world who has an e-mail address, but users can also play interactive multiplayer games from text-based to graphical with other users, browse the World Wide Web to get information on anything they wish, download software and articles ranging from the bizarre to the educational -- essentially, Internet users can get anything they desire. It is conceded any online methods of ﬁnding information can be used purely for constructive and healthy ends, socially, for people may ﬁnd many large circles of others who identify with them and strengthen their own conﬁdence in people. A journal entitled Universal Access to E-mail: Feasibility and Societal Implications mentions that the Internet, e-mail in particular, allows networks to "support interpersonal relationships and facilitate the social integration of otherwise marginalized groups" and "facilitate citizen participation in the political process" by "[contacting] government representatives". The "Civic Networks" study states very clearly, "Concerns that boundary-spanning networks might facilitate a breakdown of community afﬁliation, or disinterest in local affairs, appear unfounded." However, as a study entitled "Internet Paradox: A Social Technology That Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-Being?" stated, "These applications [e-mail, IRC chat, etc.] disproportionately reduce the costs of communication with geographically distant acquaintances and strangers; as a result, a smaller proportion of people's total social contacts might be with family and close friends." Also, "Other applications on the Internet, particularly the World Wide Web, provide asocial entertainment that could compete with social contact as a way for people to spend their time." What it is saying in the latter quote speciﬁcally is that the World Wide Web (henceforth "the Web") is primarily one-way communication - the author of a web site is the one talking, and the user only does the listening unless he takes the effort to write that author. In this way, the Web is more like television, and users can end up ﬁnding lifeless documents equivalent to human communication, since the pure bulk of information on the Web provides dynamic conversational input that other people ﬁnd in talking to actual humans. Comparing the two studies, it is obvious that there is wild debate about whether the 'Net is harmful or not. Internet addiction has been a hot topic. The replacement of humans by computers as interactive beings is the main concern for individuals' health. What feeds 'Net addiction is the fact that the 'Net removes all of the social and physical barriers to satisfying desires. For example, pornography is readily available online, and for younger children and people with low esteem, what had previously kept them from buying pornographic videos and magazines, or watching pornographic movies, was embarrassment. However, while online, anyone, any age, can download as much pornography as they wish without fear of being identiﬁed by other people. Whether this is healthy or not is a heated debate, for the most part irrelevant to the topic of this research paper. Nevertheless, the point is made that the 'Net loosens the restrictive nature of society, a nature which has traditionally protected societal morality and manners. By making any information available in the
comfort of one's own room, any pleasure or indulgence is perfectly acceptable and comfortable, regardless of the taboo it has outside of that room. Complementing the alluring addictive aspect of the 'Net is the decline of communication amongst social circles in general as democratic oversimpliﬁcation gradually nulliﬁes the credibility and usefulness of religion and...
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