“Back when personal computers first started to appear, there were predictions that we were witnessing the dawning of yet another Age of Aquarius.
Maybe it was the fledgling computer industry's proximity to San Francisco that caused many early proponents to foresee the electronic Web binding us together in worldwide e-community, blurring distinctions based on nationality, ethnicity, race, sex, age or the other factors that divide us. Next thing you know, as the lyrics go, peace would guide the planets, and love would steer the stars.
Then Bill Gates became a gazillionaire and online pornography turned out to be the Web's big money-maker. That cosmic vision got a bit cloudy.
Indeed, soon enough the pendulum swung and the spread of the Web began to be seen as something nefarious, trapping our youth into lives of sullen indolence, removed from human interaction, turned into depressed zombies by the mesmerizing power of these interactive screens. To paraphrase lyrics of an earlier generation, there was trouble in River City and that starts with P and ends with C and that stands for trouble!
Not surprisingly, the truth turns out to lie somewhere in between.
A recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that although the Web and e-mail may not have led to universal peace and understanding, neither have they driven Americans into lives of desperate solitude. Indeed, the study found that this technology has helped people expand and solidify their social networks.”
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