It is true that social media allows us to be connected to family and friends instantly, thanks to the Internet, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and of course Smartphone texting. But where is the human contact and interactive verbal conversations or letter writing? Gone are the days when we sent a lengthy letter or a heartfelt card via Australia Post or dialled a number on our landline to chat with someone over a cuppa. You might think that social media allows us to be connected 24/7 and it does, but the downside is that people are lonelier and more isolated than ever before.
Social media has made sure that there is minimal human interaction and real quality time together with the people in our lives, allowing people to maintain emotional distance. Many people choose to hide behind the social media platforms, diminishing the importance of developing their social skills and loving interpersonal relationships that are essential for our overall mental and physical health and well-being. We all need strong face-to-face social connectedness in our lives; it is part of being human.
It is not an exaggeration to suggest that some people spend more than half of their day on social networks and smartphones, increasing their chances of feeling socially isolated at a high rate. People fear that if they don’t stay in contact via the social networks on offer, they may miss out on something.
My concern is for many of our adolescents and young people who are already living in isolation, with mental health issues and lack the social skills and development to form healthy lasting relationships, thus spiralling further into an isolated existence due to social media. The more time people spend connecting with their social media outlets, the less time they have to participate in real life situations. Sadly, in a lot of cases, social media allows people to give the illusion that others are leading an amazing and successful life and many people who view this tend to feel lost and inadequate in comparison. Furthermore, in my experience, I have observed young people suffering from feelings of exclusion stemming from seeing Facebook photos of their friends enjoying themselves to which they were not invited. You cannot believe the trail of devastation this leaves behind.
While social media presents opportunities to fill that social void, and it probably can when kept to a minimum, it also takes away the natural human contact that is vital for our survival and the ability to function normally in social situations.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some advantages to social media; it allows people to maintain a connection with family, close friends and co-workers in the busy world that we live in. It can also work well for long distance relationships and professional purposes. Let’s face it; it is a sign of the times, advancement in technology and the way of the world today. My point is that the addictive use of social media tends to be associated with increased social isolation for some individuals.