Elon University

One Week on the Internet in 2001: The Jolly Family

This feature article about Internet use at the turn of the millennium is part of “One Neighborhood, One Week on the Internet in 2001” a revealing, detailed study of Internet use during the week of Jan. 12-19, 2001, by 24 upper-middle-class families in a small-town neighborhood. The information here was gathered through interviews and the completion of time-use diaries by individual family members in one of two dozen Elon, N.C., households. Entry and exit interviews and the family members’ daily diary Internet-use entries were woven into individual magazine-style stories on each family by the ethnographic researchers who completed this study.

“Everyone needs a computer nowadays. It is great for research and keeping people connected to the world.” -Bion Jolly

Jolly Family Photo By Jason Tuttle

The Internet is becoming more and more advanced every day. While many families have become extremely experienced Web users, there are also many who are more gradually assimilating the Net into their daily lives.

Bion and Kerry Jolly purchased their first computer in 1998 – a Gateway with 56k access speed – and they are still finding out new stuff all the time on the Web.

The primary reason that the Jollys went online was to learn about America Online and also about the Internet. It began for the couple, like it does for most families who are rookie Internet users, when they received a free AOL disk in the mail.

“I kept hearing dot-com everything,” Kerry explained, “so when I got this CD in the mail, I immediately slipped it in and tried it. There was no specific reason for this, I just wanted to look at it and learn.”

The links available through AOL are all the Jollys use when going online. “I guess I do just trust the information I see,” Kerry said. “I mean I never go to other search engines or browsers and I go on just about every day. We really have found out how fascinating and helpful the Internet can be.”

Seeking a fuller life with a larger family

The Jollys’ friendly, tail-wagging dog Jake welcomes visitors to their home. Bion and Kerry have recently spent time online looking at information about border collies. The Jollys have no children, but this might not be the case for long.

Bion and Kerry are on the Internet more than once a week looking for adoption agencies in hopes of finding a link to bringing in a new member of their family. They say they are overwhelmed and amazed about all the information they find concerning adoption and the adoption process.

They are learning all the key details about how adoption agencies function and just what sort of expenses. In their searches, they have been amazed at the information available – there are even chat rooms in which adopting parents can communicate.

Seeking information through the Internet helped the family select the agency that they want to use. Adoption is a big step, and they say they are greatly satisfied with the information that they found.

Work, play, money and family

Kerry, a lab manager, and Bion, a sales representative, confess that their Internet use at work is limited. Although Bion does have a work e-mail address and tries to promote it, he says that time is of the essence on his job and the Internet is most useful when searching for a specific product for a customer.

Kerry does have a computer-oriented job, but she does not spend much time on the Internet while at work, leaving that to her “productive” relaxation at home.

These days, many community organizations are finding uses for computers and Internet connections. Kerry does volunteer word for her church, lining up meetings and selecting topics for discussion. She uses the Internet to send the group e-mail to the whole group to remind them of leadership meetings and get feedback on ideas. She says this is very beneficial because she can perform one procedure on the computer instead of having to make eight to 10 phone calls to the different group members.

The Jollys say the Internet brings people’s families together, but it can also isolate family members as well. Sometimes, while Kerry is on the Internet for work, Bion will be outside doing other hobbies.

When it comes to looking up vacation sites they usually work together, checking out prices and finding different places that they would like to go. When shopping on the Internet, Bion and Kerry say they are sometimes together and sometimes isolated if they are shopping for each other. Most of the shopping done on the Internet is just comparing prices and looking at different items – they say they try to stay away from using their credit card on the Internet from fear of it being stolen.

Most of the people that invest in a computer today think it is money well spent. Bion and Kerry say they feel the same way. The Internet hook-up at their house has been well used. Although the use of the Internet varies from week to week depending on what they have to do, the Jollys say they feel they are getting their money’s worth no matter what.

The Internet is both fun and entertaining to them. Bion says their connection is valuable, and so does Kerry. They say there is an abundance of information to be found on the Web, and you can do almost any kind of research you want and get straight-forward facts.

When speaking of their relatives and the ways, in which they use the Internet, the Jollys are quick to say that the generation gap has definitely taken a toll on both sides of the family. Neither one of their families are Internet savvy. Kerry says her mother does enjoy looking at real estate online. ” My mother’s problem is that she knows if she did go online frequently that she would never get off,” Kerry said. “She is so fascinated with what all there is to see and learn.”

Genealogy and expense reports

Kerry, the more tech-savvy of the two, speaks of personal interests that she has sometimes that she is able to learn about online. For example, she was able to simply type in her maiden name and find out all sorts of information about her family’s history and background.

Bion said, “I use the computer a lot for my expense reports. We have also tried banking online.”

Sometimes trying to do things on the Internet doesn’t always go so smoothly. The Jollys had a fiasco once when filing their taxes online. “We did it once, and we learned our lesson,” Kerry said. “We will never do that again. We got all the way to the end of answering the questions and something happened, so we lost all that work.”

Connection, communication, shopping and more

The majority of Americans today have reported that they believe the Internet has revolutionized our society in numerous ways. Again, the Jolly’s are no exception. They say it is convenient, extremely economical, and wonderful for communication and connection. It provides information on travel, housing and shopping.

“Everyone needs a computer nowadays,” said Bion. “It is great for research and keeping people connected to the world.”

Kerry and Bion conflicted in their final assessment of the Internet though. Kerry says she is convinced that the Internet has helped her to be more productive. It helps her to get projects done that she may not have done if she had to do them the old-fashioned way. Bion however, was quick to say that he thinks the Internet has made people lazy in some ways.