Editorial: Does social media make us more lonely?

The world has never before been more connected. We have global communication at our fingertips; we can contact someone on the other side of the Earth in a minute. But this also means that our generation is the first to get distracted by the very thing that enables us to work and study better.

Middle school students go to the restrooms just to check our texts. In the shuttle bus to sports, all you see is kids on their phones instead of talking with their friends. After school on campus, kids play on their phones while a friend nags them to play. We have become pathetic in our attempts to connect.

46% of Americans report that they are lonely. How can that many Americans feel lonely when we are more connected than ever? Social media can make you feel connected, but what about the people around you? You could appear to not care about them. This can lead to broken friendships, which will cause you to feel even lonelier.

Social media shows you things that you never thought of and you never needed. When you were otherwise enjoying your day, social media can show you someone else’s “better day,” and you might feel worse. Our parents often tell us that when they grew up, there were only six channels; if you wanted to see your friends, you would call them. However, when adults are on their phones, they seem to have adapted. Maybe this means we as a species can change, and continue being human even with technology.

Social media was made by humans for humans, so it only makes sense that we love it so much. Social media gives you a rush of endorphins whenever you get a notification. It gives you the false impression that you have a lot of friends who like you. Sure, you know their tags, and maybe you follow them. But what are they like face-to-face in the physical world—IF they even exist? All you know about them is their profile. You have no dependency on them, and they don’t need you. Their life is as insignificant to you as an ants is to you. You could wonder what they are like in the physical world, but you may never know.

These types of questions come up a lot when thinking of “people” online. Some of the prominent figures in social media may talk about, pretend, sign, or rap about actions and things that seem crazy and unrealistic. They may not do those things in real life, and if you knew those people in the physical world, you could easily see through what is posted online. It is easy to hide who you really are if you have the technology. Their goal is to make money, while your motivation for consuming their content is to escape the inevitable loneliness that is chasing you as you keep trapping yourself in social media.

Social media is becoming a necessity for our generation. It’s hard to socialize without it. But we can choose to use social media in a more positive way, to strengthen our connections with one another, rather than blinding following strangers. In our futures, we may find ourselves connecting less via sharing text and videos, and more through virtual, 4D interactions. Our hope is that we can preserve our humanity while we connect online.




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