Recently, I read an article on Wechat about how social media influenced our life. People are reported feeling lonelier with more time spending with social media. In this article, it explains the reasons behind it and how to avoid feeling lonely. I learn a lot from it and want to share these inspiring messages with everyone who are feeling lonelier with social media.
On a TED Talk, scholar Sherry Turkle said that social media created three fantasies for us:
- We will receive attention in any situation.
- We will always be heard.
- We will never be alone.
With the growth of social media, less and less people invite friends to their homes to chat and build a closer relationship with each other. Maria Knnikova, a writer of NewYorker pointed out that internet has the alienating nature. That is always shown in our daily life. Spending more time with social media inevitably reduces our time spent with families and friends. Even when family members are together, we tend to read our phones instead of talking to each other. At the same time, social media keep past stories of a person which may make their intimate partners suspicious and uncomfortable about. That influence the quality of the intimate relationship.
Scholar Moira Burke invested why social media make us lonely. She summarized that some features on social media create side effects on us. She categorized online communication into three different categories. The first one is one-click communication, refers to the likes on Facebook and Instagram. The second one is broadcast communication, which refers to people receiving new feeds and notification of contents that are broadcasted to everyone by a friend. The third one is composed communication, which refers to the targeted and customized content that is sent to a specific person. Moira divided the online relationship into strong relationship and weak relationship. With her study, she found that, when people receive composed communication from strong relationship, their happiness is increased. Other forms of communication from either strong relationship or weak relationship have no influence on people’s happiness.
To increase one’s happiness and reduce the loneliness, it is important to increase the quality of the social interaction. Sociologist Eric Klinenberg from New York University said that the quality of social interaction can reduce the loneliness of a person instead of the quantity of the social interaction. So, it is important to have more meaningful interactions with friends instead of merely liking each other’s posts on social media. He also said that we need to go offline and meet friends. In his study, he found that the more people interact with each other face to face, the less those people feel lonely. He concluded that the key element of social media is whether this social media makes you have more face to face interaction of not.
Therefore, if you don’t want to feel lonely, stand up and walk around and talk with people. Don’t experience others’ life merely through social media.
Flickr / Photo by Emilie Barbier.