Is the Internet killing qualitative research?

The internet has been blamed for ruining many aspects of our lives, including, but not limited to, our relationships, our happiness, our productivity, and pretty much everything else.

Of course, the claim that technology poses an immense threat to humanity has been as old as technology itself.

In the 16th century, there were concerns about the threat the printing press posed to humanity.

Then, it was the radio.

Then TV.

Now, it’s the Internet.

Should we worry about the Internet?

Maybe.

In the short period that the internet has managed to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, its impact on the academic world, for the better or worse, has become undeniable.

Let’s take qualitative research, for instance.

Qualitative research can be defined as an exploratory research that is used to gain a comprehensive of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations.

The methods used in qualitative research, including observation and immersion, interviews, focus groups, and data analysis, are highly dependent on one’s ability to engage in-depth with social processes that make up everyday life.

Qualitative research requires the researcher to ponder and reflect on the data collected and find the meaning within- what Hunter et al. (2002) identify as “the more crucial components of this type of research.”

Thus, qualitative research is a creative process. It is the ability to find connections between different social processes and relations of social life, such as poverty and race for example.

Various studies have found that the internet is killing our ability to concentrate and be creative. In a world where our attention is being pulled in every direction with a myriad of information, it becomes easier to consume than to be creative.

Boredom becomes seldom a problem.

However, boredom is the catalyst for creativity. It encourages contemplation and daydreaming, which can spur creativity.

If creativity and focused contemplation are required for creating meaning from qualitative data, and the Internet is increasingly undermining our ability to focus and engage with creative thinking, the question remains, is the internet killing qualitative research?

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