Thanks to the internet and social media platforms, connecting with other people has never been easier. A few clicks of your mouse or taps of your finger and suddenly you can gain access to a hive of activity comprised of likes, tweets, comments, shared links and a myriad of other interactions. How could such a marvellous technology possibly contribute to feelings of isolation or loneliness you might ask? Before we get into that, we first need to take a deeper look into what loneliness actually means.
Loneliness vs solitude
It’s important that we acknowledge the difference of solitude versus loneliness as it is very easy to get these two confused. Psychologists define solitude as a lack of contact with other people, but this doesn’t automatically translate to loneliness. Many people enjoy time to themselves, whether it’s a solo drive, working on something creative, or simply reading a new novel. No, loneliness is being sad about being apart from other people, or a discrepancy between your current level of social contact, compared with your preferred level.
So how does social media come into it?
It is called social after all, isn’t it? While evidence related to the correlation between social media and increasing levels of loneliness has been inconclusive up until now, there have been various studies that support this connection. For instance, all the way back in 1998, a seminal study was conducted by Carnegie Mellon researchers which demonstrated increasing internet usage coincided with an increase in loneliness.
The more we connect, the more we disconnect
This may seem like a contradictory statement, but when you consider the growing prevalence of social media and our tendency to interact over digital technology rather than in person, the trend becomes more evident. Not only this, but platforms such as Facebook only serve to magnify feelings of isolation by giving individuals access to a virtual ocean of other peoples’ lives that they’re not a part of.
Imagine logging on and facing a barrage of happy photos from holidays and parties that you’re not going on. Viewing interactions between friends and family, yet receiving none yourself. It is this kind of social comparison, amplified by digital platforms, that can lead people to feel inadequate with their own social life. This contrast, between what others have, and what you have, can leave you feeling lonely, where you might not have been feeling lonely before.
This is where The Connectar aims to bridge the divide, by helping users break away from traditional social media and seek out human interaction from real people who they can truly connect with.