Internet, Cellphones Increasingly Viewed as Essential

I survived National Day of Unplugging, a day in which individuals are encouraged to disconnect for 24 hours.

Electrical cords connected to multi outlets

Increasingly Americans view the internet and cellphones as essential making it harder to unplug. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

It wasn’t easy. First thing Saturday morning I went to check my emails and quickly stopped myself. I also needed to send some emails to keep projects moving but they had to wait until Sunday.

I couldn’t go to the Internet to reserve my DVDs. Instead, I showed up at Redbox and hoped that my movie choice was still available.

I did find myself reading more. And because the weather was gorgeous I spent a good deal of time outside. I wonder if that would have happened if I could have been checking emails or surfing the net?

It’s a question that the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project posed. The answer is that increasingly Americans view the internet and cellphones as essential.

According to the survey, more than half of internet users now say the internet would be “very hard” to give up. And among this devoted group, 61 percent said the internet was essential to them, either for work or other reasons.

For something that didn’t exist all that long ago, the Internet has come into wide usage. Tomorrow, in fact, the World Wide Web turns 25.

Also growing in importance is the cellphone. Today if I leave my house without my cellphone, I turn back to get it. I’m not sure what I think is going to happen without the device, but I’m not alone in this thinking. Cellphone owners are attached to their phones with 49 percent saying they would have a hard time giving them up, which is up from 43 percent in 2006.

The survey also found declines in televisions and landlines. Surprisingly, the level of attachment for social media remains low. Only 11 percent said it would be hard to give up, while 40 percent said it wouldn’t be difficult at all.

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Celebrate National Library Week

How do you read? Perhaps, I should be asking whether you still read.

It’s an interesting question and one I wanted to pose given that this week is National Library Week. One of my favorite authors, Ellen Crosby, posted a survey on her Facebook page asking people how they read. The choices were – they buy the book, they read on an e-reader or they go to the library. The winner was real books that are owned, followed by library books.

Of course, this was a small survey and is not scientific, but I started thinking about how I consume books. I’ve moved a lot in my adult years so I’ve always tried to keep my collection of books manageable. Despite that, if I moved today I would easily fill 15 to 20 boxes with books – and those are only my favorites that I’ve kept. And then there are all the business and leadership books that I have at work.

To cut down on books, though, I’ve become a huge fan of my library. I can walk to it and pick up a few books. I also volunteer with the Friends group of my library. We hold two books sales each year. This is great because I can buy books, read them and then contribute to the sale. I also coordinate our Writer Wednesday series where authors come in and speak about their books. Topics have included mysteries, remodeling, history and anything else that will interest our patrons. The wonderful part is that the topic almost doesn’t matter because readers love to meet authors.

Books and more books

E-readers, library books and purchased books -- I read them all! (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I also have succumbed to the e-reader. Last fall I traveled to Indonesia, which is a 30+-hour journey. I needed some variety in my reading choices and not much weight in the suitcase. So I bought a Nook. I love it for traveling and enjoy reading on it. I have some friends who even have abandoned a physical book for their e-readers. Apparently, we’re not alone. A Pew Research Center survey showed that one in five American adults read an electronic book in the last year.

For me, though, at the end of the day, I still want to hold a book, preferably new, so I can sniff the ink on the page and hear the sound of the pages crinkling and the spine slightly cracking as I open it to explore.

Would you take the time to share how you consume books by posting a comment this week as part of National Library Week?