Stephen Marche’s article, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? poses a question that most ignore in the midst of using Facebook (FB) and other social media platforms. Marche states, “Social media – from Facebook to Twitter – have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all is connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier.” The article suggests, societies increasing existence in cyberspace is limiting their physical contact because many are, according to Marche, “transfixed by the glare of a screen, hungering for a response.”
I, like many others, jumped on the FB craze. Within days of posting a profile, my FB friends list grew exponentially. Instantly, I was connected with people I knew from high school and family members in other states or in the Caribbean. As my FB friends increased, so did my happiness. I felt like I was re-living high school. This time around, instead of being the tall, artsy girl with glasses, I was the popular girl who amassed hundreds of friends in days. This explosion of my friends list, gave me a false sense of popularity; because as my online friendships grew, my actual circle of friends did not.
After interacting with friends on FB for a few years, I found myself unable to get through the day without checking statuses. It became a methodical ritual that if not completed, would upset the equilibrium of my day. I craved the artificial interactions. This made me question my need for FB. Was I relying on the mind-boggling optimistic statuses posted by my FB friends as some means of satisfaction? How did their lives mimic that of a celebrity and my life was habitually average? The lives of my 300 plus FB friends were as perfect as a made for T.V.movie and my life resembled a news broadcast; comprised of depressing events. I began to feel isolated. As I continued to compare our lives, reality set in and I came to a conclusion; my FB friends were no happier than I was. They were putting on a “happy” façade, by posting only camera-worthy moments from their lives in an ongoing effort to convince themselves and their FB friends of their happiness? Marche states, “Being happy all the time, pretending to be happy, actually attempting to be happy – it’s exhausting.” I was exhausted. I no longer needed or wanted to constantly look at the falsities projected by most on FB.
With the onset of a new year right around the corner, I began thinking about what my new year’s resolution would be. I crossed off my virtual list things I had accomplished that year; obtain my AA degree, loose the 10 pounds that accumulated throughout the year and cigarettes and I were no longer friends… so, I settled on, omitting things from my life that added no value to it. What immediately came to mind was FB. Subsequently, on Jan. 1 2014, I deleted my FB profile. I figured if anyone wanted to get in touch with me, they could call as I have had the same cell phone number for the past 10 years. I was accessible.
Today, I do not have a profile on Facebook, SnapChat, Vine or Tumblr (I actually had to Google “social media sites” just to put together the aforementioned list). I do however subscribe to some social media sites; YouTube for the instructional services it provides. When I was single, I watched countless hours of videos on how to clear a sink drain, patch interior walls and install a new flush valve system in a toilet bowl to replace the ballcock system (Yes that is a term. I know, I watched YouTube videos on it). Additionally, I have Twitter; my beloved Twitter. However, I do not follow many personal accounts as much as I follow news accounts: Associated Press, 1010 Wins and Huffington Post. I want to be updated on news events while I’m unable to access a T.V. or newspaper.
In answer to Marche’s question of, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? Facebook allows users to become detached from one another. It seems that the more connected we become, via social media, the lonelier one is. Marche states, “Loneliness is certainly not something that Facebook or Twitter or any of the lesser forms of social media is doing to us. We are doing it to ourselves.” Face to face conversations and daily interaction is being replaced by interaction in a digital alternate reality and many users are satisfied as it according to Marche, “Spares us the embarrassing reality…” of our waning popularity.