Guest Commentary: Why Facebook might be making you lonely

Guest Commentary: Why Facebook might be making you lonely

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Samuel Alemayhu
Lane business major


We live in a world where social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have hit a pinnacle in popularity (accounting for over 845 million people), but never before have we been so connected and intertwined within each other’s lives. Unless that isn’t true. Could it be that we are at our most polarized state in society?

Do we go to Facebook, or any other social networking site, because we are genuinely curious as to how our friends, relatives and neighbors are doing? Or does another motive drive us to the web? It may just be that these social sites have given us the chance to feel like we’re included within someone’s life; to feel popular when more than two friends comment on a status update; to create a vacuum of sympathy from our “friends’’ when we feel down.

I believe this may result in a generation severely impacted physically and mentally by an epidemic of loneliness. As a result of the successive growth in social media use in the past few decades, I believe that there has been a rampant upsurge in loneliness from users as a result.

In an article in The Atlantic magazine in May, 2012 titled “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?’’ author, Stephen Marche states that the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook has arrived in a time where there has been a dramatic increase in what he refers to as the ‘’quantity and intensity of human loneliness.’’

In other words, he believes that we are living in a time period where communication with one another on a global scale has never been so easily attainable, but while the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook rises so does an epidemic of loneliness felt between its users.

The rise may be directly correlated to the seemingly deep appeal of the site’s promise of greater connectivity. This presents an unprecedented paradox, which Marche refers to as the ‘’internet paradox.’’ The point being that with access to all of these powerful social media/networking devices, we are more connected and potentially more disconnected than we have ever been.

Facebook’s popularity stems from the idea that it will help create a stronger, more intimate relationship with the people in our social circle, without having to be physically present. Rather than creating and nurturing authentic human relationships, instead it provides us with the illusion of intimacy.

A considerable part of Facebook’s appeal stems from its ability to combine distance with intimacy, or at least construct that illusion. Rather than unifying people within one’s social network, it may push them further away into isolation. Individuals may become less interested in strengthening relationships and instead become primarily focused on how they are perceived by members of their social circle.

Marche states that, “Self-presentation on Facebook is continuous, intensely mediated, and possessed of a phony nonchalance that eliminated even the potential for spontaneity. Curating the exhibition of the self has become a 24/7 occupation.’’ In an ironic twist, social media has the potential to make us less social; acting as a surrogate for the real thing.

As an avid user of social media, I agree with these points and have noticed these trends within my own friends on social media. It seems that sites such as Facebook or Twitter are merely being used as a device to project a sort of facade of who some people are and what their lives are actually like. These devices allow anyone to hide behind a Facebook post or tweet, projecting a carefully fabricated image or illusion of their choosing.

To be continued in edition 20 …

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