A US academic says that social-networking sites such as Twitter merely give people the illusion that they are able to communicate better.

Sherry Turkle from MIT describes social network users' frantic online activity as 'madness', saying that such people are becoming isolated from real human interactions. Far from improving communication, Turkle says, technology dominates lives and makes us all 'less human'.

In her book 'Alone Together', Turkle says: 'We have invented inspiring and enhancing technologies, yet we have allowed them to diminish us... A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological.'

Chatting on US TV comedy show, The Colbert Report, Turkle revealed that she had recently attended a funeral where mourners checked their iPhones for messages, and that had given her the inspiration for the book.

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