Facebook by itself is not responsible for making us lonelier; Facebook is another feature in a long line electronic of replicas for human interaction that began with the Internet itself. This alienation was further exacerbated by the cellular phone explosion, complete with the ever-advancing technology that gives us all hand-held computers in the guise of a telephone. So while our base of social interactions is broader, our actual physical interaction with other human beings is being replaced by interaction with one or more electronic devices. This is what is making us lonelier- this proliferation of inventions designed to help us communicate through artificial means. In other words, as technology advances, humanity decreases.
The introduction of the Internet started an upward spiral in our electronic connectivity, and the requisite downward spiral in our social interactions with each other. Suddenly, the research we needed the help of someone else to do, we could do alone. The games we needed a human opponent to play against were replaced by the provision of virtual competitors. What was a team or group effort became possible to accomplish in a solitary manner. With the introduction of “Ask.com” and similar sites, we can ask the computer any question whereas earlier we may have had to interrupt our computer session to actually speak to someone. Our introduction and invitation to cyberspace was the beginning of our separation and alienation from each other.
The next chink in the armor of our gregarious society was the mainstream use of the cellular phone. Once again, an electronic device that appeared to enhance our communication with one another, in effect, decreased it significantly. The sheer proliferation of cell phone usage in public can be unsettling; we are so busy talking with our phones that we cannot talk to the person who is sitting next to us or across the table. It is not just general conversation with a stranger that has suffered as a result of the cellular phone phenomenon. “You Tube” and other similar sites promote posting videos of all kinds of situations. People will tape a deadly fight or a horrific car crash before they rush to the aid of their fellow man; the various sites and Facebook are full of recordings taken by an onlooker who might otherwise have provided help to the victim. This has become so outrageous that precedent has been set for charging onlookers who record rather than interfere or assist as codefendants in vicious beatings or other criminal acts.
Of these inventions, Facebook is the most innocuous of the three. First of all, participation in Facebook is completely optional; one can refrain from having an Internet account without any adverse effects on their lives. We cannot refrain from computer use; all our pertinent functions are linked through them. Cell phone use is all around us, even if we are not participants. Facebook is an optional social network used to communicate with others. We start with people we actually know, and expand through requests and mutual friends/interests to others we may not have met in real life. Facebook does not create or destroy friendships (Marche, 2012). It also does not create or increase loneliness.
Facebook can increase our base of friendships by re-connecting us with past friends who may have moved or otherwise lost contact. Family members and other loved ones across the globe are able to stay connected through Facebook; lost lovers have been reconnected through its pages. New friendships have also been created on Facebook, although these must be taken into careful consideration. The beneficial aspects of the medium certainly outweigh the dangers of it. Facebook does more to mend our loneliness than to increase it.
- Marche, S. (2012). Is Facebook making us lonely?