Pop Quiz: September-October 2001


As students were returning to their fall-semester routines, we asked them:

Are you addicted to the Internet?

National surveys suggest that young people in particular are spending much of their time online. Our results—the product of non-virtual conversations—suggested a similar picture.

One self-identified Internet addict is Dylan Ashbrook, a sophomore. “When I’m writing a paper, I check my e-mail every two minutes,” he says. “Not because I think I’ve got any messages but because it’s exciting, like the lottery, to think someone tried to communicate with me in that two-minute span.”

A rare dissenter, senior James Watts, is less excited by the techniques of quick communication. “I’m not addicted to the Internet,” he insists. “I frown upon the Internet. I like to be outside.”

Inside is presumably the place to accomplish class assignments, but Jainey Bavishi, a junior, says she is “really addicted to my Instant Messenger,” adding, “I spend more time reading people’s away message some nights than I spend doing my homework.” Says sophomore Elise Law, “I don’t know what I would do without AOL IM. I don’t even use the phone anymore.” Instant Messenger seems to have an even stronger hold on Keri-Ann O’Leary, a sophomore, for whom the allure of the virtual trumps physical proximity: “I talk to Evelyn with it, and she lives across the hall.

Similarly, sophomore Sandy Hernandez admits she “definitely” talks too much using instant-messaging, and says she’s nostalgic for phone communication—or even for get-togethers that don’t rely on technology. One of her classmates, Joseph Lee, says, “I use the Internet as a tool—but I don’t think I’m addicted. I use it to get e-mail, read The Chronicle, and read the newspaper back home.”

“You could use the word ‘addicted,’ but ‘effective’ is the word I would use,” says Carla Brackman, a junior. “I have an online answering service, direct mail, and all the info my little heart could desire at my fingertip. So if I were addicted, it’s not a bad thing to be addicted to.”

Of course, Internet access has everything to do with Internet addiction. “I’m not addicted because I only started getting the Internet at the end of my senior year in high school,” says freshman Sammy Negrete. Says senior Liesel Stanhope, “I live off-campus, so I don’t have the Internet in my house. It’s not readily available. If it was, I might use it a lot more.”

And what happens when Internet addiction intersects with consumer passions? Sophomore Ted Mann offers an example: “My roommate searches eBay constantly for the same pair of shoes, even though he already has two pairs of them.”

—compiled by Lucas Schaefer ’04

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