Technology is a great thing to have in our lives, it is evident that over the years as we have adapted to new environments, technology has always been there to aid us. However, have we relied so much on technology that we are forgoing traditional face to face interaction for things like social media, or is something else making us feel lonely?
In this article, we will discuss how technology has grown over time to the point where avoiding it has become increasingly difficult, and how people have adapted to this uptake of social media and tech devices that keep us plugged in at all times.
Social Media Platforms & Social Interaction
Social media is categorized as interactive websites and applications where users can create, share, and express their feelings, whether it be for professional or personal reasons. People are able to network as well as create communities in a virtual world that connects people from across the globe.
From that definition, it should be seen as a huge positive for everyone. Individuals can create a connection with someone on the other side of the world, new businesses can build on their profile online, as well as create a community that can produce more traffic to their website as well as generate more sales, and so on.
Despite this practical application, it has drawbacks that have become more evident over time, resulting in more feelings of loneliness and withdrawal from social interactions. So we do end up asking the question “does technology make us more alone?”
Pros of Technology
Starting on a positive note, there are pros to technology that are evident across the board that we should mention. Whilst the social media side of technology has disadvantages attached to it, there are pros there that can help us all. For instance, the use of wearable technology can support people in taking charge of their lives and with losing weight. It keeps everything in one handy to manage place.
This has been mentioned before that global connection is a big drive with technology. People today can talk with people from anywhere and everywhere (depending on if they have an internet connection). There is the potential for people to know more about culture and opportunities that they wouldn’t have previously known about.
Insight into the World
With the friends and relationships we make online, we are not shielded from what is happening on the other side of the world. The news sources, social media postings, videos, images, etc., we are more aware of what is happening and how it is affecting people. Giving us opportunities to get involved or help.
Technology helps streamline a lot of practices, it is no longer as time-consuming as it once was, technology has helped created software, programs, and so on, to have things handled a lot more efficiently than they used to be. Every industry, as well as on a personal level, can react quicker, moving things along without delay.
One of the best things about technology – finding answers as quickly as possible. If you need information on a client, for a book report, movie times, drug interactions, and a whole load more, they can be sent to you at the speed of light. No shifting through books, you now scroll through an interactive page.
Cons of Technology
Evidently, there are cons, in fact, you could argue that the pros above have cons directly attached to them, it all depends on how it is looked at and what people feel about technology as a whole.
Mental Health & Physical Health Problems
One of the most well-known is how it affects the mental health of people. It can provoke feelings of inadequacy in their bodies. They see models online, they get depressed about how they look, and they want to change themselves to ‘fit in’, so they adopt bad habits that can seriously affect them, especially if they are still developing.
Limited Face to Face Interaction
With the reliance on being online, people can push real life existing friendships and relationships out of the way, especially if they are getting what they need online. Plus, if they can speak to their friends online in between things like school and work, they don’t much see the need to catch up with them as they are already doing that. This can lead to feeling lonely when they are actually in a social group as they aren’t used to it.
Lack of Privacy & Potential Hacking
With all of our lives online, it would be remiss to believe that we are fully safe from hackers and those who want our information. It can be even worse for people who do not know the ramifications of not protecting their online profile and private information.
There are many websites that can help people find your phone number, where you live, what you do, and what you look like. Your digital footprint is out there for everyone to see and the saying is very true – once it’s on the internet, it’s on there forever.
Consistent Need to Upgrade
Any technology that you do have whether it is a smartphone, app, or piece of software, you need to make sure you upgrade it as and when it asks, otherwise it can run slowly and cause issues for you. If you rely entirely on that one piece of technology for something important and it crashes, you are looking at a standstill with your work or education.
So, What Does This Mean?
As with everything, pros and cons are going to be a fact of life, but with technology being so ingrained into our lives, it doesn’t just keep us connected, it keeps us attached to a certain way of life that we now rely on, making us feel too connected to the online world which can produce negative effects despite the other positives that come with it.
Why Are We Relying on Technology so Much?
The world as we know it today is incredibly reliant on technology, we have adapted jobs, social connections, and life in general to different types of tech. Instead of us needing to converse face-to-face, we feel connected through a variety of devices – specifically smartphones.
Socially, technology has made it easier for us to talk to many others, so if you feel socially isolated in normal life, there are always online areas where you can go and talk with other people who feel the same way.
Feeling isolated or feel left out within your friend group, or just in general? Online friends make you feel supported, in a way, you feel like when you are online you get to show the real you without being judged for who you are and what you do.
This feeling of acceptance can be incredibly powerful, especially for young adults and teenagers who are trying to find their place in society, so why wouldn’t they want to spend most of their time online? They can go on streaming sites, gaming platforms, media websites, and so on, for hours and hours, whiling away the time, basically putting themselves in a world where they feel content.
So, in theory, it is a good thing for young people as they get to stop feeling lonely socially, and they can forge stronger relationships and friendships online, but in doing so, they are neglecting the physical social aspect of a connection.
Face to Face Interaction
People who spend so much time online may find their skills in communication can struggle, they might find talking to actual people harder to do as they don’t have the protection of a screen in front of them, and this can cause anxiety and depression in those who have relied solely on devices to soothe them and support them.
A substantial downside of technology is that cyberbullying is rife among young adults. People can be anonymous online and can bully someone through a wall of technology, even if they are a thousand miles away, they don’t have to look someone in the face to bully them.
They can do it through social media platforms, instant messaging, and emails, this can embolden them and have them lash out even more viciously than they would do if they were facing their object of ridicule.
It doesn’t just stay online, of course, this can cause real problems for the person getting bullied, for example, if they go to school with this bully, they may be afraid to leave their house as being surrounded by people can cause them to have a panic attack or fear making eye contact with people in case that furthers the issue of them being a target.
Being online opens us all up to different ‘desirable’ things that we wish we could be. It may feel shallow to wish we looked beautiful and have people desire us for who we are, but to young people, if they see these ‘perfect’ bodies every day, all they want to do is be like them. Maybe if they were like them they’d be accepted more? Maybe they could maintain a relationship? Maybe, just maybe, they won’t feel lonely anymore?
But, whilst that may be what is felt, it isn’t true. Changing themselves from their true self will not help them battle what is inside, but trying to pull away from something as strong as social media, is not easy for teenagers who have grown up with it always in their lives.
If you have ever felt lonely whilst being surrounded by people, or if you rarely feel happy when around your actual friends and want to distance yourself by going on your phone and distracting your mind from having to engage only to realize that you truly feel lonely no matter what you do, then you need to seek help.
A reliance on technology is not something to be too worried about if you work in an industry that depends on it to communicate and connect with clients, employees, and other businesses. But, when it comes to matters of the social kind, then there is a point where people need to pause and take a step back.
It is important that people feel safe whilst using technology, they need the ability to be on these platforms without making it their entire identity which can add to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Going to something like family therapy or individual therapy can support you in learning how to set boundaries with your phone use and help you feel a sense of control over what you are doing and help you communicate your feelings effectively to your family and friends.
So, if you have ever asked yourself the question, “why do I feel lonely even though I have friends?” it may just be because of spending too much time on smartphones. However, your therapist will be able to help you out with figuring out what the main cause is. Therapy can be a lifesaver for people who find it difficult to detach themselves from damaging patterns. Moreover, you can put your mobile phones to good use by looking for Online Therapy in Oregon or wherever that is you reside. By opting for online mental aids and sessions, you can save money and time while availing quality facilities from your home.
Family & Friends
If you don’t feel like you want to take it to therapy just yet, you may want to confide in your family and friends about how you are feeling. Even if it is just one friend/person that you trust. They may be on the same level as you but have been afraid to express their feelings about how they actually feel.
We all want to connect with someone, but it is a two way street in that respect and you have to realize that giving and taking are part of friendships and relationships. Being chronically online may be fun at first because it distracts from the real world, but in the long run, that is not beneficial for your true self. This loneliness that you are feeling will not go away the more you are online.
Does technology make us more alone? According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, research shows that “being on social media for two hours or more a day makes you 2x as likely to feel socially isolated.” So yes, from a social media point of view, it can contribute to that feeling of loneliness.
Technology as a whole, including things related to jobs and world necessities, does bring about positives, maybe a bit too much reliance on the different tech available, but without it, we wouldn’t be able to make strides in a whole host of sectors that have been made better with technology like healthcare, transportation, education, and retail, to name a few. It is more about the individuals and how they factor that into their lives.