Surprising Number Of Americans Would Chop Off A Finger To Stay Online


Americans love the Internet. Some love it so much that they'd rather chop off a finger than stay offline forever, according to a new survey.

In March, researchers at AT&T asked over 2,000 Americans what they'd give up to stay connected, and people admitted that they'd part with some pretty essential things. Their answers, which are meant to be more fun than scientific, illustrate the extent to which the Internet has become a nearly indispensable feature of modern life.

A full third of respondents said they would sacrifice a digit. Another third said they'd ditch their sense of taste. More than 15 percent of the people surveyed said they'd forgo human interaction before ditching the Internet, and nearly 20 percent said they'd give up love.

Over half said they would allow a stranger to die if it meant holding onto their Internet connection. And a measly 35 percent said they would give up the Internet if doing so would allow them to cure cancer. 

Overall, men reported being more willing than women to part with things like body parts or their morality. Younger respondents placed a higher value on Internet access than older folks.  

While these findings might suggest that Americans are cold-hearted Internet fiends, online access is actually essential for a growing number of everyday activities -- from shopping to applying for jobs to communicating with friends. Not having access to the Internet, or the ability to use it well, can come with significant personal and financial costs.  

AT&T's findings are provocative, but they should be taken with a grain (or a handful) of salt. The researchers polled people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but their findings aren't nationally representative, according to a company spokesperson, so it's impossible to tell whether the results reflect the opinions of Americans as a whole. It also didn't control for race, income or location.

In 2013, a similar study found that 85 percent of respondents would rather go without water than give up mobile apps. A 2015 Pew study painted a less extreme picture: It found that, for nearly 70 percent of Americans, not having Internet access at home would be a "major disadvantage" in finding a job and accessing important health data and other information.