Keith Hampton: people can’t get addicted to communication
April 30th, 2007

(Via Keith’s Weblog)

In this ABC News article, Keith Hampton, one of the most astute students of online social networks, questions the notion that people are addicted to email and their “Crackberries.”

Keith Hampton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, said that people depend on devices, such as the BlackBerry, to stay in contact with business connections, and weaker social ties.

Really close social ties — those who give us warm hugs and a broad spectrum of support — we know we maintain contact with them through a whole bunch of communication mediums,” Hampton said. “We don’t just e-mail our parents, our brothers and sisters.”

E-mail allows people to talk to larger and larger circles of business contacts, and for those contacts, he said, “It can be devastating and difficult” when that form of communication breaks down.

“E-mail has opened up the opportunity to have much more instantaneous contact, to have much more brief exchanges than we did in the past and possibly to maintain a greater number of social ties than we ever have before,” Hampton said.

But he called the idea of being addicted to a BlackBerry “ridiculous.”

“You can’t be addicted to communication,” Hampton said. “We’re all social animals. We want to communicate with those around us. And the BlackBerry is just one of many types of communication that help facilitate that.


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