A aspect of the human condition that has plagued us for centuries and quite possibly our entire existence is the idea of scapegoating, or blame-shifting as our methodology for solving our problems. With scapegoating, we are often quick to hand off the struggles in our lives to other external or third-party people or technologies, without taking a deeper look at what might be occurring within ourselves to explain our very personal phenomena. In a society that finds itself being reformed each September with the release of the newest generation of iPhone, we find ourselves often pointing a finger at social media when things in our lives are not matching up to expectations.
Published in the Atlantic, Stephen Marche makes his case for why Facebook is making us lonely, stating that often the social media app reduces our number of interpersonal, in-person interactions with one another and therefore increases loneliness and isolation. Marche says that within decades, the percentage of adults in the United States who feel like they are completely alone or have little to no confidants in which to confide in has increased, and its partially due to the rise of the internet.
Eric Klingenberg, who was cited in Marche’s article as a source to make his case for why social media has contributed to our overall loneliness, disputes Marche’s claims. He says there’s “zero evidence” that Facebook is a major contributor to our loneliness, stating that like other revolutionary forms of communication such as the printing press, the telephone and broadcast media like radio and television, social media is just a tool in which we amplify the realities of our own lives.
While I see Marche’s reasoning that social media has the ability to isolate us, I don’t think that social media is the reason for the isolation; rather, I side more with Klingenberg’s argument that online social media platforms provide us an outlet to unwittingly amplify our loneliness without anyone noticing otherwise.
While I often feel frustrated by the amount of my attention that social media often requires of me, I disagree that Facebook and other platforms are the reason for me being lonely. If I feel lonely, it is because I am personally feeling it already and social media is not working to improve that feeling. In these instances, social media only amplifies those feelings of loneliness.
I would also argue that social media does a better job of keeping me connected than I would normally have time for, given my hectic schedule full of running a newspaper and managing a full load of classes. Access to social media allows me to remain close with people who matter to me without having physical closeness. To me, that dispels the loneliness I feel, because I know they too are behind a screen feeling cared for because I’m taking the time out of my day to send a text message to them. So no, Facebook does not make me lonelier. It only serves as an outlet to either relieve or amplify my loneliness – in the end, it is my choice on what I feel.