Tech and social media: The felons of our loneliness

Social media is our main mode of communication and interaction with the people around the globe. However, studies suggest that social media is not as social as it is deemed to be.

Yes, you may be connected with 500 friends on Facebook or have dozens of people retweeting your post on Twitter - at the end of the day, there is an ache that can only be described as loneliness.

A Stanford University psychiatrist further sheds light on this matter and said that the internet gives us the perception of connectedness. However, he claims that the virtual connection is often at the expanse of physical relationships.

Of course, loneliness has always been the center of the human condition. And researchers are also finding it hard to tell whether we are lonely because of all the time spent online or are we spending more time online because we are lonely.

But experts do agree that technology is playing its part and making us more isolated than ever.

Cultural aspect

One of the biggest reasons for our internet overuse is the expectations set by our society.

Did our grandparents ever think they would have 338 Facebook friends?

Or did your teenager child expect 200 likes on their TikTok video?

Probably not!

The 2019 book Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter explored the Facebook-free ancestors and claimed that they too had experienced loneliness in their lifetime. However, they considered loneliness a part of being human and kept modest expectations when it came to having friends.

They were also not driven by a Snapchat-perfect society and focused more on spending time with their loved ones – instead of worrying about their next vacation pic on Insta.

Loneliness – a business

The business of technology has become more apparent in recent times when people across the world are living in fear of the pandemic.

According to researchers, hardware and software manufacturers are promising to sell us instant connection – an immediate cure for loneliness. And we can all agree that technology has helped us pass the testing times in one form or another.

But it has limited us from enjoying loneliness and boredom. Researchers say that both – can lead to self-awareness, enhanced creativity, and a deeper appreciation for meaningful relationships.

Studies also link loneliness to medical issues including linked loneliness to heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and weakened immune systems along with premature death.

A group of researchers analyzed 20,000 participants using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire to assess the subjective feelings associated with loneliness.

Technology and personality – a history

Of course, technology has shaped our emotions long before Instagram and Twitter came into existent.

For example, when mirrors became popular, people started to care more about their looks. With time, cameras and various forms of photography became a realm and gave the people another way to present themselves.

And now the same has been replaced by Zoom activities and social media posts.

But despite all the chaos surrounding technology and social media – people are lonely and lack meaningful interactions.

The study by Cigna found that people who have frequent in-person interactions reported less loneliness and better health than those who didn’t. Moreover, research from Oxford University found that out of 150 Facebook friends, most people could count on only four as real friends.

However, researchers say that perhaps the coronavirus may change the dependence on technology. Staying home with virtual happy hours and Zoom conference has shown that people want to connect with others in person. It has shown us how much we miss this interaction.

In fact, it may push us to be more human in the future.

What do you think? Is technology getting in way of our personal relationships or are we so lonely that social media is our only savior? Pour your thoughts in the comments!

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