Letters from Green Island

August 4 2006

Why attack the Net?

Re: Wrapped in the net; Web steals time from relationships August 3, 2006

(original story also copied at the end of this letter)

Various questions occur to me reading this story. For instance, one of the analysts notes that being "absent" from one's spouse for an hour or more a day because of being online "would qualify as not rewarding to be with". One wonders if this general idea has wider applications in your analyst's mind - that is, when the spouse spends 8-10 hours per day at work (including travel time) - is this also "not rewarding" time? Or what about those 2-3 hours watching television daily - that's ok, or 'not rewarding'? Extra hours at the office on weekends? Bowling or jogging or doing other exercise alone or with others than 'spouse' a few hours a week? Why single out the internet for this attack (and attack it surely is, as there is no attempt offered whatsoever to explore positive features of time spent on the net)? Although there have been many studies over the last several years strongly indicating that the current Canadian habit of watching 3-4 hours of television every day is VERY bad for everyone in every way with virtually no redeeming features whatsoever, and this television addiction has been having very bad effects on our society over the last 30+ years, I don't think I have ever seen any more than the most tepid reporting of such studies in the mainstream media, let alone any concerted effort on the part of 'authorities' and the media to actively discourage people from this useless and even harmful behaviour, in the same sense as we have seen these ongoing attacks on internet use. Hmmmm.

The inquiring mind wonders at things like this - why this concern over the internet, but no examination of the many other activities people spend their time at in terms of how they affect personal relationships? It looks to me, actually, like somebody just trying to find another way to attack the net, and its wealth of information for the truly inquiring mind - information NOT provided by the mainstream media.

One thinks that if the researchers or story writer were really concerned about how spouses spend their time in regard to the spousal other, perhaps other approaches with some other questions might be equally or even more useful than this blinkered, one-track attack. For instance, when I was a lad oh so many years ago, most families had a working husband and a stay-at-home mother, which seemed to work very well for everyone - the kids got the attention, supervision and guidance that children need so much in their early years (and not from television, as most seem to today, with their 4+ hours per day habit, or the impersonal attention of an overworked and underpaid day-care staff somewhere), and the working husband usually managed to make enough money for a comfortable middle-class sort of lifestyle (and calm down ladies, let's not sidetrack this into a 'feminism' discussion - I have no objections whatsoever to a working wife and stay-at-home husband, although when young families are involved, it is usually easier for a man to be working than a pregnant or breast-feeding woman, and maybe we can leave for another day the discussion about the 'rewards' of a 'career' as a junior or mid-level company robot in the capitalist matrix, male or female, any sensible, thinking, non-brainwashed person would much rather be at home with one's children and more or less free...). Today, of course, for most families it takes two people working long hours to provide the same sort of lifestyle, or an even poorer one if both are forced into minimum-wage, day-to-day jobs as an increasing number are. Now, it seems to me that it might be worth doing a study on how this situation has come about over the last couple of decades, and what impact this huge theft of family time, and the addition of large dollops of stress from having to rush everywhere to whatever time is left, is having on the various spouses and family life in general, not to mention our society as a whole. Things were a lot more relaxed back then for everyone as well, less crime, less road rage, people knew their neighbors and talked to them regularly, kids played outside safely rather than sitting passively in front of a tv. You can argue all you want about the inevitability of 'progress' - but is it really inevitable in the way it is playing out in our modern world, really necessary to be living this kind of lifestyle? Or is there some driving force behind it all guiding us all this way rather than in other more nourishing and relaxed ways which would be good for everyone rather than the current system, which benefits primarily the few at the top of the trickle-up money pyramid?

One also notes that the authors of the study or writer of your story do not try to assess "quality" of time spent on the internet or any other activities in the story. That is to say, I would have no hesitation whatsoever in stating unequivocally that an hour or two spent on the internet travelling the world and browsing alternative sources of news and opinion would be of infinitely more 'quality' to the average inquiring sort of mind than spending that same hour or two parked in front of the television passively absorbing all the propaganda and indoctrination reinforcement inherent in the latest garbage emanating from the United States of Propaganda (Survivor 17 anyone? WOW!!!), with all of the brain-deadening commercials as an added bonus.

And there, perhaps, we get to the crux of the matter - the inquiring mind never likes to ask questions without positing some possible answers for further consideration - as any person with an inquiring mind understands, simply figuring out the right question is the first step in finding some plausible answers to whatever is of concern at the moment - thus phrasing a question such as "Hmmm. Why this attack on people using the internet from the mainstream media?". Might one suggest that this concern the writer and the study she refers to with the internet actually arises from the fact that the mainstream media (AKA MSM) in Canada has been a gatekeeper of information that the Canadian people receive for so long that they are getting rather noticably worried that Canadians will start learning things from the internet that the MSM have not been providing - often quite important information concerning our country and world that the keepers of our society would rather they did not know?? - and it is for this reason, not concerns over 'quality family time', that this attack on the internet has been underway the last few years.

I think the very simple-mindedness of this quite obviously agenda-driven 'story', the shallowness and one-sidedness of the 'analysis', indicates very strongly the dim view the MSM has of the intelligence of the average reader, who is apparently supposed to absorb this kind of tripe unquestioningly and feel enlightened in some way, determined to cut back on that internet-eating quality time taken from the spouse, but question nothing else in his or her life concerning the way the masters are demanding ever more of his/her time - and demonstrates very clearly why those who have not had their brains turned to mush by too much television are turning more and more to the internet to find out what is happening in the world. And this does not make them less rewarding as partners - it makes them much more valuable, at least for any spouse who would rather be living with a thinking, intelligent human being for a partner rather than an apathetic 'do-as-you're-told' herd-animal of some sort, following Big Brother through his media scribes to wherever. (Conversely, of course, it is quite understandable why those running the society, and their gatekeepers, would be much happier if people got away from the internet and its stimulating content and independent thinking altogether, and got their behinds back into the comfie couches and dim lighting in front of the flickering box that turns those alpha waves to mush, and shuts those brains down ...)

From outside the box -

Dave Patterson
Hat Yai, Thailand

[[note to those CCed, if you have bothered to read this far - we all know there is no way the Sun (or any other Canadian paper) is going to print a letter like this, as the gatekeepers refuse to allow or acknowledge public questioning of this function, preferring to pretend they do no such thing, but act with great and wonderful integrity at all times - but some of you seem to have some honesty, and perhaps you would be interested to know that they do at least receive such letters - I have no idea how many, but I do expect others (I for instance write a great deal less now than I used to, as there is a certain sense of "why bother" that comes over one after scores or hundreds of such letters are rejected, and who knows how many others there are out there who have given up trying for this reason? - we turn, oddly enough, to the internet, where freedom of expression does indeed reign, at least for now, and all are allowed to have their say..)]]


Wrapped in the net
Web steals time from relationships
Ottawa Sun, August 3, 2006

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CANADIANS who are heavy Internet users typically spend less time with family and friends, says a survey released yesterday by Statistics Canada.

WITH ONLY SO many hours in a day and many people spending an increasing amount of time on the Internet, spouses and children are being forgotten in cyberspace.

Statistics Canada released a survey yesterday that found heavy web users -- those online more than an hour a day -- spend half an hour less with family than non-users.

They spend less time socializing, tended to stay at home more and showed less interest in social and outdoor activities. The extra time spent online also meant less time devoted to paid work, chores, sleeping, relaxing, resting and thinking.


While the Internet doesn't stand out as a significant issue among the couples he's counselled, Ottawa psychologist Dr. Larry Cebulski says it's a "no-brainer" that healthy relationships need face time.

"Any of those things that take you away from relating to your spouse has a long-term impact on the quality of the relationship," he said. "If you're not a rewarding person to be with, over time your partner stops wanting to be with you.

"If you're absent (because you're online) I think that would qualify as not rewarding to be with."

Based on the responses of 20,000 Canadians over the age of 15, the survey asked participants to keep a diary for 24 hours detailing how they spent their time. It was concerned only with personal Internet use.

What was striking was the time heavy users spent alone. While moderate users (less than an hour a day) spent 26 minutes more by themselves than non-users, heavy users were alone for nearly two hours longer than non-users.


However, heavy users said they had the same number of close relations with people outside the home as non-users, thanks to chat rooms and e-mail, as well as the telephone.

Barry Wellman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, said online social networks can often reduce family interaction, but said that is to be expected with society's rising reliance on technology.

"We're all becoming heavy Internet users over time. We lead somewhat different lifestyles that include the computer."

The survey found no difference in TV-watching time for both heavy and non-users. That concerns Alan Mirabelli, executive director of the Vanier Institute of the Family.

"When you look at it on the surface, you say, 'A half-hour (online)? Well, that's reasonable.' But if that same person is watching two to three hours of television a day, you're putting off conversations that may be essential to members of your family," Mirabelli said.

"It is a shutting out," Alison Lee, a psychologist at the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute, said of the impact on a spouse. "I can imagine it would just be a feeling of not feeling important and that could be problematic."

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