Facebook makes lonely?


So, i am a Psychology student (the only Psychology student from our class :P), that’s why i thought it would be fun to write my last article for the course about a subject, that has a social media aspect and a psychology aspect.

There is a debate going on, about whether Facebook (social media) do people make feel lonely and social unconnected. Some studies came with the conclusion that Facebook makes people lonely and less satisfied, rather than making them feel social connected as we actually expect from using Facebook.. Strange isn’t it? Let’s read a few studies.

-Study from the University of Michigan. Over two weeks, Psychologist Kross and his colleagues sent text messages to 82 Ann Arbor residents five times per day. The researchers wanted to know a few things: how their subjects felt overall, how worried and lonely they were, how much they had used Facebook, and how often they had had direct interaction with others since the previous text message.
Kross found that the more people used Facebook in the time between the two texts, the less happy they felt—and the more their overall satisfaction declined from the beginning of the study until its end. The data, he argues, shows that Facebook was making them unhappy.

– Study from Carnegie Mellon University. Researcher Robert Kraut found that the more people used the Web, the lonelier and more depressed they felt. After people went online for the first time, their sense of happiness and social connectedness dropped, over one to two years, as a function of how often they used the Internet.

Why are people lonelier when using Facebook?
A review of some 75 studies concluded that Facebookusers do not differ in most personality traits from people who don’t use Facebook (Anderson, Chamorro-Premuzic, Fagan & Woodnut, 2012).
So, we can’t say that people who use Facebook are more lonely; that more lonelier people go online than people who are not/less lonely.

So.. why are they lonelier?.. Well…
It is also about HOW people use Facebook:
A study from Carnegie Mellon University found that, when people actively engaged in direct interaction with others (Posting on walls, chatting, or “like” something) their feelings of bonding and social connectedness increased, while their sense of loneliness decreased.
But when participants simply consumed a lot of content passively (Going through their timeline), Facebook had the opposite effect: lowering their feelings of connection and increasing their sense of loneliness and dissatisfaction.
Other studies do support this.

From above there can be concluded that Facebook makes you (more) lonely, when you are passive on Facebook; going through your timeline and lurking.
This could be because of the fact that people compare themselves to the others in their timeline.. Relationships, photo’s, friendships etc. all look perfect on Facebook as we all know!.. Thereby, people become more dissatisfied with their own lives and they feel more lonely because they maybe don’t have so much friends as the other has on their Facebook (FacebookFriendslist), or they maybe don’t have such ‘perfect’ relationships like the other.
I also think that people using Facebook could be more lonely, because they now spend more time on social media than on face-to-face contact; Rather than meeting friends, communicating with them through for example Whatsapp or Facebook. People manipulate how they want to be presented to peers, family members, and potential mates on social media (by editing), rather than having vulnerable and genuine conversations with them in real time.

Do you think that Facebook, social media, can make us lonely?
If Yes, do you think that it matters whether you are active or passive on it?
If No, why do you think that these people feel more lonely if it isn’t because of their Facebook-activity?

References:

– Anderson, B., Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Fagan, P., & Woodnutt, T. (2012). Facebook Psychology: Popular Questions Answered by Research. Psychology of Popular Media Culture (1).
AVailable at: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/features/ppm-1-1-23.pdf.
– Gordon, R. (2013). This Video Will Have You Completely Rethink How You Conduct Yourself Online And In Person (Video).
Available at: http://elitedaily.com/news/world/this-video-will-have-you-completely-rethink-how-you-conduct-yourself-online-and-in-person-video/.
– Greig, A. (2013). All the lonely Facebook friends: Study shows social media makes us MORE lonely and unhappy and LESS sociable.
Available at:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2419419/All-lonely-Facebook-friends-Study-shows-social-media-makes-MORE-lonely-unhappy-LESS-sociable.html.
-Hu. E, (2013). Whether Facebook Makes You Lonely Depends On How You Use It.
Available at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/09/16/223052837/whether-facebook-makes-you-lonely-depends-on-how-you-use-it.
– Konnikova, M. (2013). HOW FACEBOOK MAKES US UNHAPPY.
Available at:http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/09/the-real-reason-facebook-makes-us-unhappy.html
– Marche, S. (2012). Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?
Available at:http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/

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2 thoughts on “Facebook makes lonely?

  1. I consider myself a very passive facebook users, i use it for event managing, school purposes, and the occasional chatting when i am bored out of my mind. And no i do not consider myself lonely, but nevertheless i agree with the study. In my years of facebook i’ve been more active at times than now, and with being active on facebook comes also a lot of attention back to you, in other words, if i post a lot on my wall and other people’s walls than more attention is paid to your profile. Therefore passive users of facebook that only check whether people wrote on their wall or sent them messages without spending time doing the same for others may misinterpret this as no one caring about them, hence the sense of loneliness.

    I’ve not gone through this study, but i assume this phenomenon occurs more often with younger users. Especially kids in their teens often give more value to their facebook profile then it actually should have; The number of friends on facebook should not be seen as the actual number of friends, the same goes for your timeline, just because your timeline has a post every hour does not mean your popular. This however is a major issue i saw especially in highschool as kids compare each others facebook profiles as if they are a one-to-one reflection of yourself.

  2. I agree, however, when reading this i constantly had the thought of ‘living together alone’ in my head. Its kind of the same thing on social media, we are all together in the same space, but are we really together ? Facebook in a way can either make a person feel right at home, or lonelier than ever before. The need to have your post of photos recognised can affect a persons self esteem, and seeing the popularity of other friends on Facebook can definitely have an effect on a persons self-esteem. so all in all, i agree with the statement that Facebook can make people lonely, however this only applies to a selection of people and not everyone.

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