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Rich Or Poor, You've Probably Friended Someone Recently

BY Nick Judd | Friday, August 26 2011

Half of all Americans and 65 percent of Internet users use social networks, according to a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that also reveals use of the social tools crosses lines of race and class.

Other Pew research has shown, for instance, that black and Hispanic people are more likely to use a smartphone than their white counterparts — which would be of interest to researchers looking for ways to get information and civic participation across the gap in access to broadband Internet that separates rich and poor, given that roughly 25 percent of people of color live in poverty and are more likely to be unemployed, except that smartphone use also skews sharply towards higher-income folks. This survey, however, shows shows that well over two-thirds of Internet users in all income groups use tools like Facebook and twitter: 68 percent of people with a household income of less than $30,000 per year, 63 percent in households earning between $50,000 and $74,999 per year, and 68 percent of people in households wealtheir than that, according to the study. The differences in those numbers are not statistically significant.

The breakdown is the same regardless of where Americans live, too: Roughly two thirds of city dwellers, suburbanites and country folk are all sharing their lives online.

Just because everyone uses social media doesn't mean everyone likes it, however. Pew asked survey takers to give one word to describe their experiences using social networking sites. While "good" was the most common response, here's a little bit about what else they heard:

negative responses were recorded for roughly one in five respondents who answered this question and these answers included a far more diverse array of adjectives and, at times, expletives. Frustrations were evident among respondents who described their experiences using the networks as “annoying,” “overwhelming,” “boring,” “confusing” and “overrated.” Many respondents offered the words “addictive” or “addicting” as the first thing that came to their mind, while a sizable ambivalent group said their experiences had simply been “okay.” These neutral descriptions were also quite varied, though terms that indicated little experience with the sites—such as “Rarely,” “Seldom” or “Occasionally”—were common in this group.

Another response to this open-ended question? "Glitches."

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