Drake: Social media can cheapen real-life relationships

It’s been 10 years since Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook took over the Internet and forever changed the ways we interact with one another. Two years later came the rise of Twitter, followed by Instagram, then Snapchat and then — you get the idea.

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With so much social media, it’s almost impossible to deny the positive effects it has had on our everyday lives, giving us the power to connect with all walks of life in the palm of our hands.

But does social media truly connect us and make us more interpersonal? Studies from across the board, including Facebook’s recent controversial study in which it altered more than 600,000 subjects’ news feeds, suggest social media makes us depressed, according to Time Magazine.

In Robert Putnam’s 1995 book “Bowling Alone,” Putnam was weary that our technological advancements aren’t enhancing our interactivity or productivity with one another. Putnam drew on evidence of 500,000 interviews over the past quarter century to demonstrate that we sign less petitions, associate with fewer organizations and socialize with our friends and family less often.

 

Putnam’s research suggests that these recent advancements in technology have allowed us privatization and individualization that we’ve never had before, allowing users of technology to become idle and distracted in building relationships that benefit, not just ourselves, but society as a whole. A “zombifying” of people if you will.

He also suggests that we have less friends now than the average person did 50 years ago. But that that number is increasing according to new research.

Some studies suggest that there is no strong correlation between the use of social media and rates of depression because the tech is fairly new, but Facebook was also developed at the time when Internet use in The United States was already on an incline, and Americans were lonelier than ever, according to Stephen Marche, contributing writer for The Atlantic, in his article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”

“In 1950, less than 10 percent of American households contained only one person,” Marche wrote. “Nearly 27 percent of households had just one person by 2010. Solitary living does not guarantee a life of unhappiness, of course.”

It’s a wonder how something that was built off the basis of connecting others can make people sad or lonely; it’s important to understand because interpersonal communication is far different than that of digital means and they vary in a way that requires clarity to understand and analyze. The best thing to do is to is recognize which relationships matter the most and insure their value isn’t being cheapened by the convenience or accessibility of your relationships online.

So is the Internet evil? No. Like anything, use in moderation. But if Facebook really is useful for something, “share” this story with your 1,000 “friends” on Facebook. I’d greatly appreciate it.

  • Updated Jul. 1, 2014 at 2:28 pm