Facebook and Loneliness? A New Connection

Does Facebook make you lonely?  For me, it does when I see all the parties I'm not invited to.  But beyond that, a new study has found that only the lonely use it the most.

Not so surprising, but, according to newswise.com, a new study has found that, though social media was supposedly developed to bring people closer together, it may just be the people who are the most distanced from others who are drawn to it.

There is a relationship between Facebook use and loneliness. The researchers concluded that relationship exists because the feeling of loneliness brings its users to Facebook, rather than because Facebook makes people lonely.

The researchers chose to focus on Facebook because it is by far the most popular online social media site, with people using it to share personal information, meet people and develop friendships, according to the study. The use of Facebook – at home and at work – accounts for 54 percent of users’ time online globally and 62 percent of their time in the United States.

For several decades, researchers have been looking at whether Internet use, in general, is psychologically beneficial or detrimenta, newswise.com reports.

The good part is that when people communicate online, they can reflect and think longer before saying something. This gives people a way to connect with others while feeling less anxiety. However, once you put it in writing, it's there forever.  And who knows who else is seeing it?

While Internet use in general has been studied extensively, not as much research has been done on the relatively newer phenomenon of Facebook.

It turns out there is a relationship between Facebook use and loneliness. That is, as loneliness increases, the time spent on Facebook increases. This means, at least, that Facebook does not help in reducing loneliness even if we feel more connected while using it, researchers say.

I must admit, I do worry about my 13-year-old who uses Skype and texting to communicate with his friends and rarely sees them in person, other than in school.  You do wonder if kids today are ever going to be able to have face-to-face relationships with people.

And I know I love the Internet because I'd much rather -- curmudgeon that I am -- get things done that way than having to talk to people.  I like things within my control and that gives me that.  I can respond when I feel like it, and then the monkey is off my back.  (My old boss taught me that when you can shove a project onto someone else, it's called getting the monkey off your back!).

So, is Facebook good for us or not?  I guess, as with anything, it depends.   If you use it to avoid people, no.  But if it makes you feel like there's really someone out there, when you need a voice in the wilderness, then go right ahead.





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