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Is Loneliness Linked To Social Media Use?

Social Media Highlighting Problems In Society

Social media is often praised for its connectivity. It is possible to now contact people from across the globe in just seconds, but this doesn't mean that people are more sociable than they used to be, and for some, social media has created a section of society that feel isolated and alone.

social media loneliness
Source: stylelikeu.com

Such a juxtaposition has intrigued researchers, and there were some interesting figures published this week by the relationship support organisation Relate. Their research showed that people are feeling increasingly unloved, with almost 9 per cent saying that they don't have a close friend.

Academia also plays a role in this, and combined with social media can have an impact on how a person socialises. Students in Cambridge are at risk due to its high population of those in academic circles, and this may make the city an epicentre for loneliness.

A charity in Cambridge named Cogwheel provide counselling to Cambridge communities, and they also found that students and academics are at risk of feeling alone, and a spokeswoman for the charity expanded by saying: “Some of the students who come to us are emotionally exhausted and very isolated and don’t know how to break out of the circle of loneliness.”

“Many students live away from home and their usual network of people who could support them.”

In addition to the views expressed by Cogwheel, psychotherapist Jackie Schickler who owns Cambridge Counselling Centre, said that introverted students are at a greater risk: “Even within the university people can feel lonely, as some students struggle to cultivate good relationships with others.”

“They lack the confidence, and seeing other people making friends and having the time of their lives probably lowers their self esteem even further.”

The rise in these feelings is no coincidence in modern day society, and social media plays a part of course due to the shallow social nature of how people often utilise it. Social circles are no longer exist in a purely physical form, as online circles are now just as valuable. You can go onto Facebook and see how many friends someone has, but whether that is the reality remains to be seen.

The word connectivity is always used in conjunction with the communication aspect of online communities such as Facebook and Twitter, but in a way, the message that they are portraying in their marketing schemes is the exact opposite of the reality in which we live in. If we continue to use social media in the way that we do, we are actually disconnecting ourselves from each other, whilst placing more emphasis and importance of materialistic concepts and virtual relationships.

No wonder students are feeling more lonely and sad than ever before. They are essentially the target market for networking platforms who preach a new world of easy communication, and are also the children of this digital age, and this gives the feeling that many young people are just hamsters in one big social experiment.

Those introverted students will invest their time in social media sites thinking that it will be easy to make new friends, but what they will be met with is a plethora of selfies, narcissistic updates, and photos of people travelling around Asia. In addition to this there is a heavy emphasis on how many ‘friends’ one has, and currently, the average amount of friends that a Facebook user has is at 338. This is also a detachment from reality as although at first it seems harmless to add as many people as possible on social media platforms, it is in fact damaging the way we look at personal relationships.

social media loneliness
Source: texasenterprise.com
To rationalise friendship down to a number is a dangerous concept in itself as it makes people such as the students who are suffering from loneliness feel alone and unworthy of being incorporated into society.

As a species we must recognise the problems that are arising in society today, and the misuse of social media is one. That is why it is great when a campaign to raise awareness or money for a good cause comes along, but there is a side to the networking platforms that is cause for concern.

Whilst we are in an age of connectivity online, we are no doubt becoming disconnected from reality. This is demonstrated in the desperate actions of some, and the feelings that are being expressed by some of the students who took part in the research can lead to tragic consequences similar to that of the late great Robin Williams. His sad story should wake us all up, and dare us to look at what the bigger picture may be. Is it possible for us all to place less emphasis on materialism and abstract relationships over the Internet, and encourage physical communication and support?

Social media has actually helped bring this problem to the surface, as even before its conception we were losing touch with reality, and in the aftermath of someone who gave so much laughter voluntarily departing this earth, maybe it is time to seek out more meaningful communication and love.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Is Loneliness Linked To Social Media Use? Reviewed by Alex Smith on Monday, August 18, 2014 Rating: 5
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