A recent study found that nearly half of all college students say the Internet is more important than dating, and that they could not live without it
In what may be the most disturbing -- if not entirely unexpected -- study to come out about the 18-30 generation, a report by Cisco Systems announced that nearly 40 percent of college students consider the Internet to be more important than dating, going out with friends, or listening to music. (One assumes that breathing and healthy liver function, if included in the poll, would have taken a back seat to Internet use as well.) And even though some of the findings were rather dramatically worded, and fit in well with the hyperbolic style the Internet loves so much (55 percent of students saying they could "not live" without it), the conclusion remains the same. Students and young professionals are tied to the Internet in a way that is incredibly disproportionate to the rest of their lives.
Clearly we would not lie down in the streets and cease to be if someone cut off the Wi-Fi, but it's hard sometimes not to feel that way. With the facilitation of fast work, communication, and play that the Internet has brought, there has also been an incredibly high premium placed on instant gratification. Real life just can't compete with the kind of fast-paced, results-oriented world that the Internet provides. Combined with its insular, rejection-free environment, going online can be far more appealing than taking the time to actually get to know someone. And growing up, our generation had access to these technologies as we navigated the harsh, unforgiving worlds of pubescent coupling and imbalanced hormones. We never had to deal with an entirely off-line development. Our sharing of gossip, of research, even of sweet nothings has always bounced back and forth between glowing little screens. The idea, for most of us, of the patience, maturity, and anticipation it would take to form a relationship with someone whom you cannot access at all hours of the day and night is unthinkable. Waiting for a phone call? Knocking on someone's door? Writing a letter? With a pen?