In Tuesday’s post, I introduced the cover story in the current edition of The Atlantic by Stephen Marche entitled, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” (May 2012, pp. 60-69). Marche gives us lots to ponder!
In considering the question of Facebook making us lonely, we must not ignore the reality of what is happening in our larger society, independent of social media. If there are other factors that affect people’s wellbeing, then perhaps Facebook is not the negative influence some claim it to be. Marche addresses this in his article:
“A 2010 AARP survey found that 35 percent of adults older than 45 were chronically lonely, as opposed to 20 percent of a similar group only a decade earlier. According to a major study by a leading scholar of the subject, roughly 20 percent of Americans–about 60 million people–are unhappy with their lives because of loneliness. Across the Western world, physicians and nurses have begun to speak openly of an epidemic of loneliness.” (p. 64)
Facebook doesn’t necessarily make us lonely, but it might simply reflect what is happening in people’s lives. Furthermore, loneliness is a complicated issue. No strict formulas exist to nail it down exactly. Marche explains it this way:
”Almost every factor that one might assume affects loneliness does so only some of the time, and only under certain circumstances. People who are married are less lonely than single people, one journal article suggests, but only if their spouses are confidants. If ones spouse is not a confidant, marriage may not decrease loneliness.” (p. 64)
No cookie cutter approach here. Facebook can be one factor among many that reflects or influences loneliness. To a large degree, this will depend on the person. So, if you are lonely tonight, don’t assume it’s all Facebook’s fault.
”The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
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