Social networks are intrinsically part of our lives and whether you like it or not this has made everything different in the way we look at ourselves. Some argue that it makes us even lonelier than we ever were although that is very debatable since the whole scope of Facebook is to bring people together. Facebook has also increased its reach as a forum where people can hold endless discussions but it is also a form of dating in the sense that it offers opportunities for those who are otherwise shy and regressed to explore the world of intimate personal relationships which were otherwise certainly not available to them. The thesis statement for this paper is that Facebook does not necessarily make one lonelier although it does not contain much physical interaction.
Stephen Marche in ‘Is Facebook making us more lonely?’, 2012, is very hostile on the way that Facebook is making us even lonelier than we ever were. He cites the case of former Playboy playmate and B-movie star Yvette Vickers who was found dead at her home after spending days at her computer posting on Facebook. She had seemingly abandoned all her daily needs and was fixated on the social network with the consequent disastrous and fatal results. However this is just an extreme case and it does not mean that Facebook is actually creating goons who are stuck to their computers 24/7 without any rest and without any hope for interaction on a physical level. As in everything, one should be careful of the effects that Facebook can have on your social life as if you become too dependent on it, it does tend to get out of hand.Marche’s article goes on to discuss the fact that Vickers was placing calls not to her family and friends but to the army of contacts and fans that she had made on Facebook. This seems to imply that she was living in a false world of adulation which certainly wasn’t leading anywhere and which eventually led her to her untimely death as she became ever more detached from her friends. What Marche implies however is not true in all cases since Facebook has also been very useful for people to discover and meet long lost friends or those who have slipped out of contact.
The incredible statistic is that no less than 27 per cent of American households now contain just one person so all the more reason to turn to the computer to find solace from boredom and loneliness. However there is also a counter argument to this since when people start chatting on Facebook, they also make new friends and this helps them get out of the lonely circle in which they had descended before. Marche continues to quote Eric Klinenberg who is a sociologist at NYU and who states that ‘reams of published research shows that it’s the quality and not the quantity of social interaction that best predicts loneliness’. In fact loneliness is actually a psychological condition for you can be in a room full of people who are enjoying themselves but still feel lonely and it is obviously the same with Facebook or any other social network.
In Electronic Intimacy, 2012, Christine Rosen charts her own case where she met friend in the early 1980’s in Vermont and how their relationship deepened even when they were apart but only through the exchange of private correspondence and the phone. ‘We will adapt as we always have done’ (Rosen, 2012). She compares it with today’s electronic intimacy where people tend to enjoy plastering their relationship statuses all over the computer screen thus attempting to attract attention. Rosen also cites research which shows that the more friends’ people had on Facebook, the less happy they were with their personal lives. Kirkpatrick (2006) makes the case for Facebook being an interactive social network but yet again there is no real proof that this does not make a person lonelier. However there is an argument that Facebook can create loneliness and this is borne up in Mache’s article. You could have thousands of friends on Facebook but at heart be extremely lonely since there are no face to face interactions and meetings. This is what the authors are arguing here.
Finally we have Ashton Kucher’s article which is interesting and where he himself states that we may not have lost romance in relationships but we are perhaps neglecting it through social media. The public feel of it all is perhaps displayed in our wanting to be recognized, to be acknowledged for our efforts and to be appreciated. Posting on the walls is something which may not be ultimately rewarding but Facebook does create a sense of belonging if used properly. Kucher seems to recognize this also alluding to the intensity of text messaging and other similar social interactions. As in everything else, when used in moderation, Facebook can be a force for good and can also help in reducing loneliness.
Kucher Ashton Has Texting Killed Romance; Harper’s Bazaar 2011
Rosen Christine; Electronic Intimacy; Wilson Quarterly, 2012
Marche Stephen; Is Facebook Making us More Lonely? 2012
Kirkpatrick, David, "Why Facebook matters: It's not just for arranging dates. And it's not just another social network. Facebook offers sophisticated tools for maintaining social relationships",Fortune, October 6, 2006
Miller, Daniel, Tales from Facebook, Polity 2011, ISBN 978-0-7456-5209-2
Arrington, Michael (2012-04-25). "The Age Of Facebook". TechCrunch.