Saturday, April 28, 2012

Attack of the 845 Million Facebook Users

The last days of Yvette Vickers' life were spent contacting people she had never met, fans in far off places, not family members or friends. In fact, no one will ever know the exact age of the movie star featured in such cult classics as "The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman," and "Attack of The Giant Leeches." When she was found dead in her home, her body had been there for so long that it was mummified. According to the coroner, she might have been there for six months or a year. So how could a cult heroine spend her last days browsing the internet chatting with strangers?

The Atlantic Monthly likens this loss of connection, or loneliness, to our new "broader but shallower" relationships, relationships we have garnered through Facebook and other social media. In "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" Stephen Marche believes that "in a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society. We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information."

So how lonely are we?

There are currently about 845 million connected Facebook users all reaching out and poking each other.

27 percent of adults live alone. "In 1950, less than 10 percent of American households contained only one person."

35 percent of adults over the age of 45 are chronically lonely. In 2000, that figure was 20 percent.

20 percent of all Americans are unhappy because they are lonely.

25 percent of people have no personal confidants - no one to talk to when they need a friend or a shoulder to cry on.

But all these lonely, unhappy people are good for something. The rise in clinical psychologists, social workers, family and marriage counselors has risen dramatically.

There are many social trends that encourage isolation: moving to the burbs, watching too much television, the disintegration of the traditional family, the rejection of faith, the mainlining of social media and all its iterations, video games--moving away to college. It seems we want to isolate ourselves, especially since we spend enormous amounts of money on these lifestyle choices.

Author Stephen Marche posits the following: "The question of the future is this: Is Facebook part of the separation or part of the congregating; is it a huddling-together for warmth or a shuffling-away in pain?" Do you have any face-to-face friends that you can talk to when you're feeling down? Put another way, when was the last time you picked up the phone and called your mom (dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, BFF, etc.) just to say hi? Or do you just "socialize" on Facebook?

35 comments:

  1. I strongly agree with this belief that Facebook is taking away peoples' ability to socialize outside of the internet. People get so comfortable talking to each other from behind screens, they don't know how to interact face to face anymore. I love Facebook myself, it's a great way to stay connected with people, but I never let myself become isolated from the outside world. I see my friends in person all the time, and I hardly ever hold conversations on the Internet. I would much prefer to call my friends because it is a lot more personal. People need to start learning how to reconnect outside of Facebook.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hayden BeaudreauMay 10, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    I find it hard to believe that facebook is making people more lonely. It is not facebooks fault that you don't go and socialize in public. However facebook is easily a distration from the real world, it is not holding you captive. Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with friends, however the activities I partake in with my friends, we cannot do via facebook. Life is what you make, so if you chose to sit behind a computer screen all day, that is why you're lonely, Facebook is just an easy excuse. Thankfully my parents are not on facebook, or my grandmother for that case.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think that Facebook has burdened the way we interact with people. Before social media, people actually had to introduce themselves face to face with someone in order to meet them. Nowadays, we rely on Facebook to meet new people. This is something that I think refrains shy people from going out and socializing with new people. Instead, they stay on Facebook talking to strangers they never met and when they actually meet them in real life it will be really awkward. This goes for interacting with family members as well. Making a phone call to your aunt or uncle to keep in touch would be the right thing to do, but social media is just so much more convenient because we're on it all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. While Facebook is a great way to stay connected with friends and family. It also has become a very surface, superficial relationship you can have with not close friends, whom you would not regularly take time out of your day for a text or a phone call. As I read this article, I thought about my own feelings of discount while browsing my Facebook newsfeed. Seeing friends who "post" or "comment" on each other's wall about how much they miss each other, when they do not really feel that way at all. So while it does act as a great means of connection, this connection only goes so far. As most of your "Facebook friends" would not go out of their way by doing more than writing on your wall in a time of crisis. This makes sense for why we feel lonely, looking through pictures and seeing what a great life another person has. When in reality, it is all a show and a competition for the most ‘likes’.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't think social media is going to ever go away but I don't think it is the sole cause of increased loneliness. People are always going to desire companionship and compassion and facebook does serve that need. The problem is that normally you feed that need with face-to-face meetings, these can be seen as healthy choices like a salad or a good steak, but facebook is the easier, cheaper, and faster choice. Facebook is essentially the junk food of social connections; it keeps us going but doesn't fill us up, it leaves us feeling empty inside.
    But I would be faster to blame the current economic downturn for the rise in both loneliness and facebook. Facebook just went public (valued at 90 billion dollars) and, despite the poor economy, has seen continuous growth for years; facebook has proved that loneliness-based industry is recession proof. For myself, I don't go out to see real-life friends because I don't have the money to pay for gas; I need to be careful with the money I have and facebook/online is the cheaper and faster solution.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Technology will be the demise of all human beings on the planet. The more technology advances, the more lazy and "un-human" we become. Once the internet was created, It was all downhill from there. Facebook is a great place to connect with old friends, but people have been led to believing that the more "friends" they have on Facebook, the more popular they are in real life. Which is certainly not the truth. I myself am a victim of the internet's deathly clutch. Everyday after school or work, instead of talking with my parents, the first thing I do is turn on my laptop and go on Fdacebook. Compared to most, I don't worship Facebook. Some become so entangled with their internet lives, that they forget whats important in the real world.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. As a daily facebook user, I can definitely say that it has impacted the way I communicate with all my friends and family. Almost all of my conversations happen through facebook and honestly I do not even remember the last time I picked up my phone to call a friends for just a daily conversation. The only time I call my friends is when there is something school related. Aside from that, I barely call my extended family members unless it is during the holidays. Since the start with facebook, it is so easy to just talk to family and friends over the internet, that you forget about actually talking to them one on and one and hearing their voices. I strongly believe that is can do damage to the younger generation because they will not have the ability to interact with others one to one. With our new lazy generation, people are forgetting to create real relationships and they rely on talking to people behind a computer screen. Even though I have learned to balance the amount of time I spend of Facebook and I spend a lot of time with friends outside of Facebook, I am still part of the millions of people who relies on the internet to communicate with others.

    ReplyDelete
  9. To be honest, I use Facebook every day, but I usually just open it to check if anyone has sent me anything, browse through it for about ten to fifteen minutes, then close it and continue doing what I was doing. I think the best description I've ever heard of Facebook is from one of my friends, "Facebook is like my fridge, I always check it, but theres never anything in it." There used to be a time when I actually cared about what I put on it, but eventually I realized most of the people on it I didn't know or haven't seen since I graduated highschool or longer. I regularly call my friends to see what they are doing. You can't go on a hike on Facebook with your friends, nor can you really enjoy someone else's presence on Facebook, so its no wonder to me why all these people are lonely. They are only trying to fool themselves into thinking that this fake world matters when the truth is it doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Just this past week I was browsing Facebook when the question, “Do I really need all of these friends?” popped into my head. This article reminded me of the false values many people place in Facebook and its representation of a healthy lifestyle. While it’s true that after high school many friends go off to college and we rationalize that the reason we don’t speak any longer is because they’re far away and busy with life. Sometimes the actual reason we no longer speak to them is because we no longer have anything in common. New friends are made when you go to college, the old ones that stick around are the ones that may be with you for life, but what about all of those “friends” that were just “there” in your life. Does having them as friends on Facebook really make those connections last, or does it serve as a hallowed reminder of the days you all had together back in high school. When I went back and looked at all those friends I had on Facebook versus the friends I communicated with on Facebook and actually saw face-to-face regularly, I was astonished to see that I had hundreds of friends I either wasn’t intimately familiar with or haven’t seen in over a year. Facebook is not analogous to a social life, and neither is any other social media. At least once a week, me and all of the people I play videogames with online get together and go out to dinner, or to a bar, or whatever. We do this to strengthen the bonds and remind us of the friendships we possess in reality. Using social media like this is the only thing that gives them any purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am a Facebook user but mainly I just go on a couple times a day to see what everyone is up to. I used to be on Facebook a lot more but now I just don't have to time for it that much, which is probably a good thing. Facebook is a good way to stay connected with people but at the same time is allows you to feel like you are connected with people when you really aren't. People rely on Facebook so much now for communication that face to face interaction has been somewhat eliminated and replaced with social networking over the internet. I feel like people are, in a way, losing their social skills since communicating over the internet is so impersonable and detached. Our society is making people lonely because you dont have to leave your house in order to communicate and socialize anymore. Facebook, in my opinion, is a gateway for drama and isolation. I only keep one to stay up with what is going on with people.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The only reason why I have facebook is because of updates on the Killers. I need to know anything new about their tour, singles, anythinggggggg. Otherwise facebook is fairly annoying. People put too much drama on there, people put inapropriate pictures online, and then sometimes they will just post stupid stuff. For example, everyone has heard of "Like my status for truth is..." i find that to be the dumbes thing on facebook. if i had to do something like that it would be more pessimistic (spelling?) rather than POSITIVE. i would post "Like mys status for the most annoying quality about you is..." God i would have an easier time doing that rather than saying something positive about someone I really don't like or know. Facebook is just a place for wanna be high self-esteem. The only reason I have it is for Killers and posting sarcastic things.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've had a Facebook ever since it first came out, probably around freshman year of high school. At that time, you couldn't "chat" with people, you couldn't see who was actually online, you could only upload a certain number of pictures, you couldn't "like" anything, and if you wanted to contact someone, you had to resort to posting on their "wall" all the time. But in recent years, as Facebook has become much more popular, you can do so much more with it and to be honest, I am one of those people who is on Facebook all the time. Whether it be on my laptop or on my smartphone, I am always connected to it in one way or another; let alone Twitter and Instagram as well. Look back at my habits, yes i probably could cut back on my usage of Facebook and maybe use my time more productively, but for some reason, I feel if I don't check my Facebook periodically, I'm missing out on something cool or important. I do believe what the article is saying in that Facebook maybe be one of the causes for people feeling lonely and making them more isolated, but for me personally, i don't think I've become more isolated or lonely. I see my friends all the time face to face and we hangout a lot, and I don't think Facebook has made me see them less and less.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think Facebook has a lot to do with people being lonely nowadays, because everyone is able to connect with each other over the internet. I can admit that I only connect with my friends over Facebook because its fast and more efficient. My grandparents however, I call them over the phone because they are not able to use Facebook. Facebook is causing people to become isolated and alone. I can only speak for myself, and I know that I will do my best to pick up the phone and talk to my friends and family, instead of using Facebook.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Facebook is the cause of separation and congregation. It bring people closer. For instance, i can chat with family members who do not live in the U.S. It is cheaper to facebook than to call them. I also think Facebook makes people lonely because they do not converse in person. This is bad because peoples social skills are getting worse. Some people only talk to others online because they are too shy or just feel more comfortable talking online.

    ReplyDelete
  16. To be honest, I have to say that Facebook and other social media have severely impacted our social lives. Personally, I don't use it all that often because I find making posts rather pointless (I mean, who really wants to know what I'm doing every minute of the day?). Most of the time, I just use it to check updates from my family, seeing when baby showers are or just looking to see if they're in good health or if something's happened in Las Vegas and the like. However, I've always wondered how we can have so many "friends" on Facebook and yet not ever really talk to them in real life. I think that's somewhat part of what makes people lonely. They can chat online all they want, but that does nothing for their actual social skills.

    I suppose the only real benefit to social networking websites is that it allows a connection between friends and family when they are otherwise separated by large distances. It's nice to be able to check in on them without having to drive (or fly) to whatever city they're in. Otherwise, I think a lot of the time it creates a barrier between people. If it's not killing your social skills, it's killing your self-esteem. If you make posts and don't get a lot of replies, it feels like you're being ignored or passed over. It might not be that way, but it can feel like it (and, hey, it's another reason why people might be feeling lonely!).

    It's just this huge mess and, really, I don't understand social networking. I only have a Facebook for my family...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jenisia Scott- This article begins with the background of Yvette Vickers, who was found dead and alone in her home where it appeared she had been for six months to a year. The people she had contact with before her death were strictly fans from the Internet, and was out of contact with any close friends or family. This part of the article was really creepy and overall it is a very sad fate. Nobody should have to die alone and if they did they should have someone that would worry enough to check up on them. It then connects to our current society and the popularity of Facebook. The current statistics show that a lot of Americans have Facebook accounts and that significant amounts of people suffer from loneliness and lack any real close people to talk to. I also have a Facebook and I have friendships with people online that I have never seen in real life. Honestly, these people should not be the ones that you connect with the most, because if you were ever in real need there would be nothing they could do since the don’t even know where you live. The people who really care about you should be the ones that can talk to you in person and can be there next to you if anything ever happens to you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have a facebook account, i use it everyday whenever i get a chance to. I know how addicting it can get, but i do not think Facebook can be a reason to be or become lonely. People do prefer chattimg with family members through Facebook, but that does not mean that they do not use their phones to contact them. Not everyone in the family has a Facebook account so people have to use their phones to talk to them. Facebook can distract you from the outside world and it can make you become less social, but at the end of the day you are the one that chooses to use Facebook more than you need to, nobody forces you to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I believe that social medias are hindering us, but also bringing us together at the same time. I believe that social medias are hindering us because forms of communication are changing. An example of communication changing is the phone is becoming obsolete, less and less people are actually picking up the telephone to have conversations anymore. Social medias are hindering us with are every day close relationships, like our relationships with our parents and other relatives. Although social medias like Facebook are hindering us in some relationships, it is also bring us closer together to others. For example, I mainly use my Facebook to keep in touch with old classmate from elementary school or with my family that is out of state.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I believe that Facebook and other social media websites are the main reasoning behind the loneliness and separation people are feeling. I do have a Facebook and check it about once everyday, but I do not let it consume my life. It is far from my main source of communication and I do not plan on using it as one. I think it is convenient for when you want to keep in touch with people that live far away, or are in different time zones that are not easy to pick up the phone and call. Another thing I found Facebook helpful for is keeping in touch with my friends in the military. They are not always able to talk on the phone, but when they have access to the Internet, we are able to talk on the social media site. I am lucky enough to say that I have many friends that I talk to on a daily basis and who would be there for me if I needed them. I also talk to my parents on the phone everyday. I do, however, have friends who will disconnect themselves from hanging out with friends and conversation because they are on Facebook. It is the most frustrating thing ever. They would much rather be scrolling through Facebook to see who posted on their wall or who's doing what with who than hanging out with the friends right in front of them. It is like this virtual world that people fall into and when they fall in to deep, that is when the loneliness and the disconnection starts to occur.

    ReplyDelete
  21. We should censure Facebook or other communication software for being lonely. These softwares, a kind of new technology, have a lot of duties, because when these make our world smaller, sometimes, we will ignore the people who are near to us. For example, the new generation, Digital natives always are attracted by Internet communication cycle, but at the same time, they forget to talk with their parents. However, the strongest reason for we are lonely is ourselves. The relationship should be we are lonely, so we try to find new friends from the internet, then we get result, we might still in lonely. With the development of the modern society, the physical distance between people and people is reducing, but in contrast, the psychological distance is increasing. People are always busy with their work, in other word, they are busy with competing.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I believe that Facebook is contributing to society becoming lonely. Although people are communicating through the internet, many people are not meeting in person anymore. Or whenever they do, it would probably be awkward because you have already talked on Facebook. Even when friends are together, eventually they would probably end up on Facebook or another social network. it's like being in two places at once, in person with someone and on Facebook at the same time. BUT, Facebook causes people to be lonely because instead of meeting in person or talking on the phone, people use Facebook.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Although Facebook is know to reconnect people, I feel like it's pushing us further away from each other. We end up spending more time "talking" and interacting with each other online, but rarely ever come outside of our rooms to see them face to face. Granted some of our friends on Facebook live far away, but there are some who're within the city! I personally do try to hang out with friends face to face because I feel like it brings our relationships to a higher level. I also text often with friends and occasionally make a phone call, but it's pretty rare. I mostly only call to inform my parents on my whereabouts. I do socialize on Facebook a lot though because I don't have enough time to schedule outings with friends because of work, but I try to hang out with friends whenever I can. Also, since college started, a lot of my friends are at far away colleges such as UCLA, Davis, etc. =[

    ReplyDelete
  24. The interesting thing about social networking, in any form, is that it promotes the idea of reconnecting with old friends and becoming more 'social', when the reality of it is quite the opposite. By sitting behind a screen for some odd hours a day scrolling through new feed after news feed, reading about peoples lives without ever talking to them or commenting on it, we're really pursuing a more anti-social route. There was a point in time that I used to sit on Facebook for hours. I don't even know why, or what exactly it was that I did, but I couldn't tear myself away from it. Now I barely check it, or just leave the browser open and do something else in the background. The only reason I have to justify not deleting mine is because I still have college friends that I keep in contact with, and it's the only source of contact we have. Otherwise, I find absolutely no use for it. Sitting around staring at a computer screen, watching as people documented their lives just made me miserable and lonely. The "friendships" that I made through the site felt artificial and fake. I wanted real relationships with people and Facebook completely prevented that from happening. So, I just stopped using it as a network to talk to people and told them to call me if they wanted to hang out.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Social networking has become a way to socialize, without actually socializing. People can follow every second of someones life if they are willing to post it on facebook or twitter. However in doing so they become immune to the world around them. They no longer see what is directly in front of them. By spending every spare minute looking down at their phone, two seemingly random people sitting next to each other could be missing out on something that could change their lives. No longer do people look around and exchange quick glances or smiles with that random good-looking stranger on the bus. Instead we spend our time with "social" networking, which really is just another distraction to what is going on around us, and is a way to keep ourselves busy, effectively turning us from the social people we once were, or are still trying to be, into anti-social people who only communicate if you are friends on facebook.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I find it very hard to believe that Facebook is making people more lonely. It's not Facebook fault that you don't go and socialize in public. Facebook helps people stay connected because at some point we become busy and can't talk to old friends like we use too. Facebook in a way keeps us up to date of what are friends are doing and how are they doing. I do have friends that I talk to face-to-face on a daily basis and even then I still talk to them on Facebook. I think it has affected shy people instead because they use Facebook to interact with people because they can't do it for themselves. People don't only socialize on Facebook, they text people instead of calling because its easier. If the person is busy, they can't answer a phone call but that doesn't mean they can't keep a conversation going through text.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I don't agree how Facebook is making people lonely, yes there is statistics and evidence that show an increase of people feeling lonely, but was that really have to do with anything? I could see if the author was talking about hoe Facebook is addicting, but making you lonely? That is just too much of a vague issue. If there was enough scientific evidence and facts then I might be more interested reading this article.

    ReplyDelete
  28. It is very interesting that although there are now countless ways to connect and re-connect with family and friends, statistics show an increase in the percentage of lonely people. I think that social networks, such as Facebook, take part in both separating and congregating people. What I mean by this is that while it is true that Facebook allows us to re-connect and stay in touch with long-lost family and friends, we do not really communicate outside of the comment boxes. Communicating through our phones and laptops is completely different from face-to-face communication and this is where the problem lies. Personally, I use social networking websites to simply stay in touch with family and friends; however, I have a sister and a few friends that I am very close to that I can always go to. Over the years, I have learned that quality is much better than quantity and this is why I chose to have a few close friends rather than a network of acquaintances.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I do not think that Facebook is 100% responsible for social separation. We live in a society with constantly changing trends. The way people interact with each other will always be changing and i am curious how the next generation interacts with each other. I feel like people are too lazy to go out and make friends and socialize. We lose so much from reading a text, not just from social networks. This leaves many people feeling lonely and depressed. This was a great article, it almost inspired me to stop blogging and interact with the rest of society.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I think that Facebook is a combination of separation and congregation. It is a benefit because you have access to meeting thousands of people all around the world, but you also loose the reality of meeting people physically.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I think that Facebook can be a helpful place for most people to stay connected with one another. Some people use Facebook to connect with others to do things in the outside world by setting up events and inviting people to them. I don't think that Facebook is making people lonely, but there are some lonely people on Facebook that had issues with socializing way before Facebook came around. Some people can get too involved with social media sites but it is not the sites fault.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Alot of people are becoming internet junkies. People are becoming obsessed with social media such as twitter, instagram and facebook to name just a few. Facebook has become a worldwide phenomena. Young kids, teenagers, adults, seniors, celebrities, and even politicians have a Facebook account. People can communicate with anyone, anywhere at anytime and you can have, hundreds, thousands and even millions of facebook friends. Some people become so obsessed with facebook that if they know anyone without a facebook account that you have no social life. Their world revolves around Facebook. People are no longer communicating face to face, going out and enjoying nature and outside activities together. People are learning news about the world and their families via facebook. Facebook has become one of our major communicator sources. Even though facebook can help bring people together, it can also separate your friends, family, school and work.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I find Facebook to be a very controversial subject. Really, the only reason I still have a Facebook is to keep in contact, and stay up to date, with my family members and friends from living in Wyoming. Although I claim this to be my only reason, I still catch myself browsing it in the most unnecessary times. I recently to delete my facebook and instagram apps from my phone to have a week free of all social, media interactions. I am currently on day two and I have already begun to recognize a difference in my daily schedule. My phone is never touched in my backpack until it is needed later in the day, solely for work, and I do not spend an extra 30 minutes browsing the web before I go to sleep at night. It amazes me to look around and constantly see all of the young adults glued to their phone like it is their child. This is the reason why I have distanced myself from technology. It is slowly becoming more and more dominant in the lives of humans, especially young people, and in my opinion, having absolutely no beneficial effects on their lives in the slightest.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I don't think that woman mentioned at the beginning of the article had a lot of family or friends considering the fact that she was left dead in her apartment for more than half a year.. It makes me sick to even think about someone dying alone like that.
    I remember when my mom made a Facebook, I was forced to make one too because all of my family members had one. The reason I say forced is because I was still very much into MySpace at the time. Now I don't even use Facebook anymore, it has become a place for people to vent and talk about social and political issues when they have no idea what they are talking about. I've even noticed that more and more of my friends are deleting their Facebooks. Its all about Snapchat now!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I think that Facebook has definitely separated all of us from each other. Before Facebook came along, everyone talked to each other, dealt with things in person, and knew what was going on. Now through Facebook, we never call, we type two letters. We never speak, dance our fingers around keys. Facebook has done nothing but cause damage. There are a lot of questions, when it comes to a social media like that. There is a possibility that we don't even know who we are talking to. Facebook causes nothing but drama and confusion. The things that happen online, especially with Facebook, have turned into bullying, and now recently reported multiple torture suicides. We were all better off before Facebook ever came up, because that's when we all knew how to socialize. Now many people can't function without a screen in front of their face, or in the possession.

    ReplyDelete