Internet vs. Beer

Posted September 9, 1998 at 9:00 am No Comments

Today, I’d like to examine two seemingly unrelated articles recently extracted from two different publications. I will then analyze their implications.

  • From the New York Times, August 30, 1998:

THE LONELY NET

A two-year, $1.5-million study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, funded by the National Science Foundation and major technology companies, has concluded that Internet use appears to cause a decline in psychological well-being. A director of the study says, “We are not talking here about the extremes. These were normal adults and their families, and on average, for those who used the Internet most, things got worse.” One hour a week of Internet use led on average to an increase of 1% on the depression scale, an increase of 0.04% on the loneliness scale, and a loss of 2.7 members of the subject’s social circle (which averaged 66 people). Although the study participants used e-mail, chat rooms, and other social features of the Internet to interact with others, they reported a decline in interaction with their own family members and a reduction in their circles of friends.

  • From Information Week, August 31, 1998:

INTERNET OUTRANKS BEER-DRINKING IN WHAT’S COOL ON CAMPUS

A survey of 1,200 students at 100 colleges and universities nationwide, conducted by research firm Student Monitor LLC, shows that when asked what was “in” on campus, 72.5% of the respondents answered “the Internet,” whereas only 70.8% named “drinking beer.” Up until now, beer-drinking has held the top spot since the biannual surveys began in 1988.

Although at first glance these articles may seem unrelated, upon closer inspection an obvious linkage is revealed. Less beer, more internet. More internet, more depression. It’s clear that the internet is not the problem here, but rather the shortage of beer. Since internet usage is particularly prevalent at Carnegie Mellon, I believe it is crucial that we take steps to alleviate this problem. Carnegie Mellon has the highest suicide rate of any American university. Why? Simple. Too much internet, not enough beer. By imposing a three-beer minimum at all lectures and recitations, I am convinced that we could attack the root of the depression problem. President Cohen, if you are reading this, please take my idea into consideration.

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