A new survey from Harris Interactive for Intel has gotten a lot of publicity this week for reporting that 46 percent of American women would give up sex for two weeks rather than internet access. Men, not so much: only 30 percent would do so.
Although the survey included 2,119 adults of all ages 18 and older, Harris reports only one elder statistic: 52 percent of adults 45 and older would rather go two weeks without sex than give up the internet for one week.
The survey is titled, Internet Reliance in Today’s Economy, which we know is the worst economy in decades, and the results that got less media attention than sex are more interesting if not as titillating.
When respondents were asked to rank the importance of a list discretionary spending items, 65 percent reported that they “cannot live without” the internet. Other items listed in order of can’t-live-without:
- Cable TV subscription (39 percent)
- Dining out (20 percent)
- Shopping for clothes(18 percent)
- Gym membership (10 percent)
Apparently we prefer, by a large margin, sitting on our butts in front of a computer screen to exercising. That is surely true for me, much of it due to inertia. Once I'm at my desk, with the whole world at my fingertips, it’s hard to break away for a walk outside. Even harder to mop the floor or change the beds. There is always one more thing to check online which leads to another and another and – well, you know how that goes.
Ninety-five percent in the survey feel that it is very important, important or somewhat important for people to have devices that allow them to access the Internet. And an only slightly smaller 91 percent reported that life is better because of the internet in at least one respect. Among them:
- Improves ability to stay in touch with family and friends (78 percent)
- Able to shop more effectively (68 percent)
- Better able to manage finances with online banking and bill paying
In regard to the last item, I’m irritated every month that a couple of my regular bills must still be paid by check because the companies do not accept electronic money transfers. It’s time they catch up with the 21st century.
I suppose blogging, which was not referenced in the survey, would come under the heading of improving one’s ability to stay in touch but separately from other services, it is high on my list of essentials now. I have met so many bloggers that I consider friends during the five years since TGB began that it is now its own social circle in my life without which I would be bereft.
In the decade since the internet became ubiquitous, it has become integral to daily life for banking, bill paying, blogging, shopping, email, reading the news, research and entertainment. I think the time has come when such surveys as this one are as silly as asking if you could live without a calendar.
Nevertheless, since the survey is on the table here, I’m wondering what the single best thing is that the internet provides you. It’s hard to choose one, but I’ll pick blogging for the many different pleasures it give me.
Oh, and as to the sex question – no doubt in my mind: if I must choose, I’ll take the internet.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ellouise Schoettler writes of her new relationship with her mother in The Traveler and the Genealogist - Bridging Time.]