Life Without the Web

If You Grow Up on the Internet, Are You Better Equipped To Use It Responsibly?
What happened when I gave up the Internet.
May 19 2010 10:09 AM

Life Without the Web

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In my previous column, I quoted a letter from a reader that said, "I wish I had my old life back." For those who grew up with the Internet, there is no "old life." Had I come of age with the Internet, would it have had the same destabilizing effect on me? People who grew up with the Web surely have a less destructive relationship with it. For them, the Web is like a body part they were born with, whereas for me it feels like a recently transplanted organ my body is rejecting. "Digital natives" would probably laugh at my trials and think my concerns about Internet abuse is misguided, like Victorian notions about masturbation. The Web isn't eroding empathy or making us dumber. They'd tell me that so far no one has reported having to shave his palms from too much texting.

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But the letters I've been receiving from college students and those just entering the work force make me realize it's not just me or my generation that is having trouble with the Web. These digital natives feel just as crazed and desperate as I did and wish their jobs or studies allowed them to be disconnected more often.

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In order to get a better sense of how young people feel about the Web, I asked students from the Center for Cartoon Studies, all in their 20s, to describe their relationship with the Internet in comics. Here are some of the results.

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—Melissa Mendes

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—David Yoder

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—Lena H. Chandhok

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—Jesse Mead

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—Bill Volk

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—Katherine Roy

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—Josh Rosen

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—Paul Swartz

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—G.P. Bonesteel

The next column will be my halfway point. Your letters have been one of the highlights of this experiment, and I hope to print more reader comments soon. Please keep writing!

The Center for Cartoon Studies
att: James Sturm
PO Box 125
White River Junction, VT 05001

James Sturm is the director of The Center of Cartoon Studies, a MFA Degree-Granting College in White River Junction, Vt.

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