A Romantic, says Nietzsche, is someone who always wants to be elsewhere. If that's so, then the children of the Internet are Romantics, for they perpetually wish to be someplace else, and the laptop reliably helps take them there — if only in imagination. The e-mailer, the instant messenger, the Web browser are all dispersing their energies and interests outward, away from the present, the here and now. The Internet user is constantly connecting with people and institutions far away, creating surrogate communities that displace the potential community at hand.
Ultimately, I have to feel sad at the picture he paints of his students, but I'm a Romantic of an earlier sensibility, and when one of those hits Social Security age, there's likely to be a lot of elegiac retrospection and dreary harrumphing. I do get the perpetual wish to be otherwhere, just not via keyboard. Read all of Edmundson's essayhere. The link comes from Arts & Letters Daily.