Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?
Millions of people across the world identify themselves with one or more social media sites. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, MySpace, among other popular sites have become a standard way of sharing information yet the extent to which our lives have been made better by such media platforms is highly debatable. As Facebook is the most popular social media site, this paper explores the extent to which Facebook has made human beings lonelier than ever before.
Over half a billion people use Facebook across the world. Over one-half of this population shares information on regular basis. One might argue: why is Facebook such a popular site? The simple answer is: compared to other sites, it is easier to use.
A few positive social effects of Facebook have been documented. For certain groups of individuals such as patients suffering from similar conditions including diabetes and cancer, Facebook becomes a savior. Such groups share vital information and advice on how to stay healthy. Facebook also gives one a chance to know the experiences of other people across the world. However, the extent to which Facebook makes people’s social life worse is a cause for worry as pointed out below.
Social media was designed to conquer isolation. Yet it is achieving the opposite of this. In the modern world, it is a common spectacle in a bus or a train for ten people sitting close to one another to be all on clutching their phones, typing away comments or sharing experiences of their trip on Facebook, chatting with ‘friends’ yet ignoring their immediate neighbor passenger. This has made it possible for terrorists to go unnoticed as people no longer concern themselves knowing who is sitting, standing, walking, or living next to them. They are too busy chatting, sharing and posting comments, ‘liking’ friends’ photos and comments. An individual may have thousands of Facebook ‘friends’ and followers but the ones that he regularly communicates with are probably less than ten.
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Whenever a problem is reported in a neighborhood, it should also concern the neighbor but in the current world where neighbors do not know one another, instead preferring online friends, the degree of loneliness increases. The case of Yvette Vickers, a former B-movie actor who was discovered by her neighbor several weeks after her death illustrates the point. It was discovered that instead of sharing details of her deteriorating health with family, close friends, and neighbors, Vickers was constantly communicating with a few of her Facebook fans right until the moment of her death. If one goes through a harrowing experience, instead of sharing it with friends and colleagues next to him, or calling family members to ask for advice, he posts it on Facebook and shares photos which other users then respond to. The sense of neighborliness, friendship, and family oneness that used to make life so interesting decades ago is gone.
Couples and families, also experience the devastating social effect that Facebook brings about. Instead of holding regular face-to-face family meetings, such meetings are often held online, with the excuse that it is convenient and that it saves time and costs. A couple sitting in their house are physically together but mentally and emotionally distant from one another as husband and wife each waste away their evening chatting on Facebook instead of sharing details of their daily experiences with each other. The social life that was associated with traditional life, where people could come together face-to-face and hold parties, gatherings, and where new family members would know each other, and children would play with age mates at grandpa’s place is no longer the case. One result of this has been the high number of suicide rates across the world.
In conclusion, Facebook, like other social media platforms has resulted in increased isolation among users. While a few social benefits can be linked to the use of Facebook, the extent to which it makes families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors lonelier than ever before is a cause for concern.