Notice how you never hear anybody talk about "the information superhighway" anymore? The creation of the internet marked a big advance in human ingenuity, yes. As a lifelong reader who feels claustrophobic in libraries, it's been an enormous boon to my existence. I spend hours online every day.

The convenience of, say, being able to sit in Arkansas reading The Boston Globe's coverage of the Red Sox over my morning coffee -- What? They traded Christian Vazquez for two minor league pitchers? What were they thinking? -- makes my days more rewarding. Last night, I looked up an old friend who's still teaching at Wake Forest University -- and getting rapturous student evaluations.

Much of the rest of my time online, however, I spend reading about politics. And politically speaking, the internet is pretty much a disaster, a spewing fountain of misinformation and delusion. Novelist Scott Turow may have put it best: "The internet has bred defiant communities of lunatics who once huddled in shamed isolation with their unsettling obsessions."

Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of "The Hunting of the President" (St. Martin's Press, 2000). You can email Lyons at eugenelyons2@yahoo.com.

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