Social media permeates our everyday lives. Every smartphone and (most) contemporary devices offer a tantalisingly globalised online reality that give the illusion of connectivity and friendship. What they don’t tell you, however, is that the more you use social media, the more likely you are to feel isolated from the real world that we inhabit, a recent study suggests.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that people who visit social networks over 58 times a week are three times more likely to feel lonely than those who use the sites under nine times. It has long been suggested that social media is contributing to the rise in FOMO (fear of missing out), but this study suggests the problem may be more consequential than first thought.
As reported in The Independent, Professor Brian Primack, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, concluded that:
“We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalise us instead of bringing us together… While it may seem that social media presents opportunities to fill that social void, I think this study suggests that it may not be the solution people were hoping for.”
This morning I came across an article on The Guardian’s Facebook page entitled: ‘I deleted my social media apps because they were turning me into an idiot‘, written by Lydia Smears.
While this charming statement seems to be an exaggerated form of self-deprecation on behalf of the author, it did certainly strike a chord with me.
“Whether it was the Pavlovian thrill of the little red circles of like notifications, or a genuine need to connect with others, there was something that kept me – along with 1.86bn other active monthly Facebook users – going back. – Lydia Smears”
Smears goes on to describe how she’d open Facebook, then Instagram, then Messenger, and in the time it had taken her to look at the latter two there was a chance that something might have happened on Facebook – she’d go and open it again. Then Instagram. Then Messenger. The cycle would continue: “it was annoying the hell out of me”.
Sound familiar? (If not, kudos to you)
It’s no wonder the likes of Mark Zuckerberg are rubbing their hands with glee; we’re entirely captivated by their creations.
Naturally, my interest in Lydia Smears’ article encouraged me to share it on my Facebook news feed. In response, I was tagged in an article today that changed my perspective completely; its headline (below) didn’t exactly surprise me, but the article contains a few statistics that allow you to comprehend the bigger problem.
Here’s a snippet from Charlie Chu’s article for a little perspective:
Here’s how much time a single American spends on social media and TV in a year:
- 608 hours on social media
- 1642 hours on TV
Wow. That’s 2250 hours a year spent on TRASH. If those hours were spent reading instead, you could be reading over 1,000 books a year!
Here’s the simple truth behind reading a lot of books: It’s not that hard. We have all the time we need. The scary part—the part we all ignore—is that we are too addicted, too weak, and too distracted to do what we all know is important…
All it takes to start reading a lot more is to take “empty time” spent Twitter-stalking celebrities or watching Desperate Housewives and convert some of it to reading time.
The theory is simple. It’s the execution that’s hard.
While reading books may not be your thing, the point is that we typically spend an awful lot of time glued to screens. I bet you have a stack of unread novels somewhere… we all do. I bought the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series when it was on offer on Amazon… they’ve never left the box.
I imagine you’ve had a long outstanding project that you’ve been putting off for a long time… who’d have though something so simple as removing your social media apps on your phone could grant you so much more free time.
Q: What else could you be doing with 608 hours a year?
A: A hell of a lot!
Naturally, I’ll try to take my own ramblings on board; by posting online, I realise it’s hypocritical of me to hate on social media. My point is we simply need to spend less time on it.
Let’s stay connected… in the real world.
Thanks for reading!
Now go and read that novel that’s collecting dust.