Study: Americans Killing Time Online

A new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reveals that Americans in all age groups are going online for no reason other than to pass the time of day.

The study found that 53 percent of all young adults ages 18-29 and 58 percent of all adults in all age groups use the Internet as a diversion from daily life. According to Pew researchers, these figures are higher than in 2009, when Pew last asked how adults use the Internet, and “vastly higher” than in the mid-2000s.

PEW attributes this hike in Internet usage to several trends, including the rise of broadband connections, the increasing use of video that is enabled by these high-speed connections, and the “explosion” of social networking.

“When they have some down time, more and more [people] are finding the Internet a fun, diverting place to spend their leisure moments,” said Lee Rainie, author of the Pew report. “It’s not necessarily surprising to see that this is a favorite pastime of young adults. It is a bit surprising to see that the incidence of this use has grown in every age demographic. The Internet is not just the playground of the young.”

We can’t help but worry about this trend.

Some of the greatest artists, inventors, leaders of industry have been known to say that it is during the so-called boring times, the down time, that they get their best ideas. That sometimes, in the absence of activity, creativity flourishes.

Other worthwhile pursuits also suffer when we fill our precious spare time going online just to have something to do. We’re frittering away time that we could spend playing with our children, walking with a friend, reading a book, writing a poem, planting a garden, or simply savoring a bit of quiet “me” time in our otherwise hectic lives.

It certainly bears thinking about.



Is Facebook Really Making the World a Smaller Place?

The number of acquaintances who stand between any two people on Facebook? It’s 4.74, according to a new study by researchers at Facebook and the University of Milan.

The study updates the popular “Six Degrees of Separation” theory first espoused by psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1967 and later popularized by the parlor game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” in which seemingly unconnected celebrities are shown to have a relationship to the Hollywood star.

The Facebook study used a set of algorithms developed by researchers at the University of Milan to calculate the average degree of separation between any two people. The study found that the average number of “hops” from one person to another was 4.74 degrees. In the United States, where more than half of people over the age of 13 are Facebook users, the degree of separation was even smaller – 4.37.

The Facebook study reminds us that the world is increasingly becoming a “Global Village,” a concept the philosopher and scholar Marshall McLuhan popularized in the 1960s when he described how the vast globe has become transformed into a small village by virtue of technology. McLuhan was thinking about television, but he might just as well have been describing the Internet.

The study also begs the question of just who, exactly is a friend. A person could have several hundred Facebook friends and yet have little real contact with any of them. As Jon Kleinberg, a computer science professor at Cornell and a faculty advisor to an author of the Facebook study, told the New York Times: “We are close, in a sense, to people who don’t necessarily like us, sympathize with us or have anything in common with us. It’s the weak ties that make the world small.”



The second-place winner in Unplug & Reconnect’s essay contest, Lori Quiller of Alabama, writes about discovering sights and sounds around her after she unplugs from technology in this essay titled “Unplugged.”


By Lori Quiller


I’m definitely an iPod girl. It’s like my wallet, cell phone, checkbook and credit card – I never leave home without it.

Music is soothing, or it can rev you up during the lull of the day. It can push out the minutia of not-so-white noise that can so quickly envelope and drown you when you are least expecting it. But, it can also be the blanket covering up some of the most beautiful sounds of our world that we have learned to tune out.

Where I work requires me to walk three blocks from a parking deck, down a hill, crossing busy intersections, and navigating vehicles filled with hurried drivers. But, there’s so much more.

When my iPod’s hard drive and battery died, I quickly ordered a new one thinking I just couldn’t survive without this little device I’d grown so accustomed to for the last seven years. (No, it wasn’t old. The tech at The Apple Store smiled graciously when he carefully chose the words, “well loved,” when he described my poor, ailing little iPod that was about to be retired.)

There were several days in which I walked those three blocks each morning and afternoon bare-eared! Gasp! Not knowing how long I was going to survive without my tunes, I constantly tracked the shipping logs to find out how long before the replacement would be at my doorstep.

Then, I began to notice things I hadn’t before. First was walking past the construction site outside my parking deck. There was a chorus of mechanical tunes inside the structure. Metal on metal. Welding. Ringing. A loud pinging from deep inside. I slowed my pace. That’s when I noticed the loose manhole cover in front of the bank. I stepped on it, and it cracked like a cymbal.

I was quickly reminded of an episode of Sex and the City when Carrie dated a jazz musician who tried to get her to listen to the sounds of the street as they walked. That episode was playing out in my head, and I was in the middle of it!

The vehicles whirring past me, trying to make the next light, then squealing to a halt at the last second. Children at the daycare laughing and giggling while playing outside on the jungle gyms and in the sandlots. Birds calling to each other as they flew over my head playing their own version of “Tag! You’re it!” The sound of the light breeze tangling in the trees followed me down to the building where I worked. Finally, the thump, whirr, thump, whirr, thump, whirr of the rotating glass door entrance of the building.

It took just more than a week for my new iPod to make it to my home, but I have a confession. While I still take it wherever I go, there are days in which the sounds of the city are just are as beautiful as anything I have loaded into my tunes. It’s a different way of plugging in.


Disconnecting From Social Media in a Few Easy Steps

The two most popular social networking sites Facebook (750 million  users) and Twitter (200 million users) offer you ways to deactivate, hide, or downgrade your accounts. Facebook offers a few ways to distance yourself from it, become less dependent. You can start by turning off the notifications to your email, deleting the application from your smartphone, or even go as far as deactivating your account. Deactivating your account just means that you’re “turning off” until you’re ready to use it again.



Here are five easy steps on how to deactivate your Facebook account.

  1. Click Account on the top left of your page.
  2. Go to Account Settings.
  3. Select the Security tab
  4. On the bottom of the page you’ll find the button to deactivate your account. Click it.

5.   Scroll to the bottom of the next page and click confirm.


Don’t be fooled! Facebook will try to lure you into staying with a notice saying “Are you sure your want to deactivate your account?,” accompanied by pictures of loved ones, to convince you to stay active on Facebook. You should probably give your loved ones a call and see them in person instead!

The process to deactivate your Twitter account is similar to Facebook’s. Start by turning off notifications and weaning yourself gradually. If that doesn’t work, deactivate your account.


Four Simple steps to deactivate your Twitter account.

  1. Click on your name in the top right corner
  2. Click Settings
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page where there is a “Deactivate My Account” button and select it.
  4. On the next page, confirm that you want to deactivate

Social networking is an amazing way to stay in touch with friends and family, close and long distance. The problem arises when it is used as the only means of communicating with people. Allowing social networking sites to monopolize your communication methods is a slippery slope, as it can easily become your default form of communication, to the total exclusion of face-to-face interaction. Don’t let yourself get too attached!


Dr. Joseph Geliebter interviewed on the Debbie Mandel Radio Show

Joseph Geliebter, creator of Mind Over Body, Inc. and U&R, was interviewed by Debbie Mandel, M.A. for her weekly radio show, Turn on Your Inner Light. The interview aired on AM 1240 in Long Island on July 26th at 7:00 P.M. Hear their conversation about Unplugging and Reconnecting here: