Saturday, April 28, 2012
Attack of the 845 Million Facebook Users
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?