Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Internet Increases Happiness!? Say Wha--!?

A pictorial representation of internet data packets traveling around the world over a two-week period in 2005. Who knows what it looks like now? From Discover Magazine. Click here for a better look.
This news kind of surprised me, but here it is:  the Ashdown Group, a job recruitment agency, reports that internet access improves a person's happiness. This information comes from a study done by BCS, a UK institute for information technology. The study also found that women benefit the most from the internet, supposedly because of their openness to online social networking. Elizabeth Sparrow, president of BCS, says, "IT has a direct positive impact on life satisfaction, even when controlling for income and other factors known to be important in determining well-being." You can read more about the study, and watch a few (long) videos about it here.

Maybe the results surprise me because they go against the stereotype that internet users are all lonely nerds typing away from their parents basement (no offense if that describes you!). This also comes at an interesting time, because David Fincher's new movie The Social Network comes out on Friday here in the U.S. It looks like a great film, maintaining a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it also seems to be a part of the "internet=lonely emptiness" image, as depicted in the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. I can't wait to see it, though.

So this might be a case of actual research going against "common sense". I hope more people study the internet's effect on actual happiness (a long-term one would be nice), but what do you think? Do you think the internet has made you happier?


  1. Humm, you know what, I think it depends on each individual person. I've been a really active online netwrorking platforms user for a long time now, and I've seen others turning to internet for different purposes, so to say. When I was just "starting out" with it, I used it to practice English (it's not my native language) both in real time via chat programmes and via writing and interacting with others through a LiveJournal account - and this helped A LOT, my English kept getting better and better each day, so this definately made me happier. Then later, internet became basically the only possible way to stay in touch with people from all over the world who I met travelling... With some we became such close friends and visited each other or tarveled together again, which wouldn't be as easy if we diodn't have such a great opportunity to keep in touch on basically a daily basis if we want. Being a social person socializing with these amazing people definately makes me happy - I would be upset to lose contact with a lot of them. Then, how about networking? So many things wouldn't be as fast or easy if it wasn't for the help of the opportunities of the world wide web. Being able to find all kinds of information or people or contacts definately helps and definsately helps make me happier.

    So for me the answer is yes, internet can make you happier. But for those who sue it to escape reality? I don't think so!

  2. The internet can make you happier. As long as you find things that will increase your lust for life and not the opposite.

  3. To both of you: yes, it seems like the internet might be considered like any other tool. It can be used for bad things, or for good. I certainly feel grateful to live in a time when we can connect to people from all over the world, basically free of charge. I suppose it would be an excellent way to practice a language, too!