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Net is bad news, says Archbishop

Isolation, suicide, it's not a pretty picture

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The head of the Anglican Church, has hit out at the dangers of the Internet. Speaking at a gathering in Liverpool earlier this week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, said the Internet could leave people feeling isolated. And he warned that while the Net meant people now had access to a vast array of information, it could exclude those who do not have access. "Clearly access to information and the ability to tap resources otherwise not available can be a potent tool of empowerment. But it can also be exclusive and isolating." The Archbishop stressed the importance of building relationships and compared this to a nightmare vision of a world of disconnected souls staring blankly at flickering computer screens. A vision refuted by the chief exec of Jungle.com, Steve Bennett, who issued a statement of his own saying: " On a social level, it seems that far more friendships have been made than lost due to the Internet, as Net surfers communicate with a far wider range of people than would normally be possible." Cuddly words, Steve. But he has a point. Email has meant friends and family that live on different sides of the globe can now keep in touch easily and cheaply and has probably encouraged more people to write letters to one another than any invention since the ball-point pen. But there's always a flip-side, and perhaps some people should have less contact with one another. The Guardian also carried a story about a couple who made a suicide pact over the Internet. The two -- an Austrian woman and a Norwegian man -- both in their 20s were found dead at the bottom of a 600 metre cliff in Stavanger, Norway. The paper said a woman had contacted police saying the couple had made their appointment with death via an Internet chat facility. Kjell Hanto of the local sheriff's office said: "We have ruled out anything criminal and there is nothing to suggest that this was an accident." But Hanto wouldn't be drawn on whether it was suicide. "Draw your own conclusions," he said. Hmm, cryptic, no? ® See also: No sex please, we're emailing E-retailing kills children - yeah, right

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