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A Pew Internet & American Life study has refuted the idea that use of the Internet necessarily leads to decreased social isolation. Quite the opposite!, yelled a character in a Charles Dickens novel. It turns out that as people continually use things like Twitter, Facebook, and the like, they’re both expanding their social circle and increasing contact with said circle.

The old way of thinking was that spending all day on the computer would come at the expense of maintaining meaningful human contact. Can’t talk to someone about The Issues of the Day online, right? (Wrong, but whatever.)

Some bullet points, because those are easy to write:

• People who use mobile phones have a 12 percent larger discussion circle (people you talk to about Important Stuff) than non-mobile users

• The diversity of a person’s “core network” is 25 percent larger for mobile phone users, and 15 percent larger for basic Internet users

• People who use social networks tend to have “real” social networks that are more diverse than people who don’t

• Internet users are no less likely to have a chat with their neighbor than someone who doesn’t use the Internet all that much

You can read the full study here, or, like me, just be content with the executive summary. My interest in social networks died some time ago, but hooray for all the folks out there who keep bringing the thunder.


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