Who's Keeping You in Line Online?

According to Keith Hampton, a sociologist at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, a growing body of research shows that our social circles have become smaller in the past 20 years.

This loss of exposure to diverse opinions probably has some impact on our ability to deal with others, he said.

"It's opportunities like [online message boards] that expose us to these very strong opinions," he said. "Even if they are very strong, at least over time it helps us recognize that there are other people with other points of view and gives us strategies for coping with very strong opinions."

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