What happens when you take 200 journalism students and cut them off from the Internet for 24 hours?
It’s something I might call “information anxiety,” because the students expressed a great deal of anxiety in the narratives they provided the researchers after the experiment was over (But I would be quick to add, I’d never consider this a ‘disorder’ — just a simple, predictable result of removing an important set of tools we’ve come to rely on from our everyday world).
“Students expressed tremendous anxiety about being cut-off from information,” observed Ph.D. student Raymond McCaffrey, a former writer and editor at The Washington Post, and a current researcher on the study.
“One student said he realized that he suddenly ‘had less information than everyone else, whether it be news, class information, scores, or what happened on Family Guy.”
“They care about what is going on among their friends and families and even in the world at large,” said McCaffrey.
The study demonstrated how reliant college students were on their technology and social media — texting, always-on Internet connections, iPods. Without these tools, some of the students felt helpless and anxious.
But why would the researchers expect any other result?