Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?
An article in The Atlantic. I don’t agree with everything, but it’s interesting.
Here’s the summary:
Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.
And here’s a core part:
The idea that a Web site could deliver a more friendly, interconnected world is bogus. The depth of one’s social network outside Facebook is what determines the depth of one’s social network within Facebook, not the other way around. Using social media doesn’t create new social networks; it just transfers established networks from one platform to another. For the most part, Facebook doesn’t destroy friendships—but it doesn’t create them, either.
I disagree there. I have five things to say here, but I’ll only say three.
It’s true that Facebook alone doesn’t create friendships. But, as Christians at least, when we “meet” other Christians on Facebook, we are indeed establishing real relationships because we already have a relationship with them in Christ, apart from ever having met them in person. If you are a Christian, when you interact with other Christians on Facebook, you are interacting with a true brother or sister in the Lord — and what a great thing it is to know of them and be able to interact with them, even if it’s just electronically.
Second, I like Twitter better than Facebook and find that much more conducive to relationships.
Third, the real value of Facebook is when it is combined with travel. I have gained many new friends through Facebook, Twitter, and blogging not simply because of interacting with them on those sites, but because of then meeting them in person when I’m at a conference or wherever. Because of social media, I have met a lot more people when I travel than I otherwise would. And, because of Christ, those are real relationships and it is fantastic to meet and get to know more and more people in the body of Christ around the world.
While it perhaps comes close to pulling a Jesus juke on the article, I would say the problem is not Facebook or social media, but Facebook, social media, and anything outside of Christ.