Is Our Technology Isolating Us?


With all the social media platforms circulating (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), it seems like it’s easier than ever for our generation to stay connected. But is our technology actually isolating us? Signs from an abundance of sources point to yes.

A cultural shift is occurring, away from community and towards the self. Gone is the Paris café culture, when social society was geared towards deep conversations, replaced with the flashy lights and instant, superficial convenience of text messages and social media—with dangerous effects. Multiple studies, including a psychological experiment from the University of Michigan, have identified a direct correlation between the amount of time users spent on Facebook and feelings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and lowered self-esteem. Being constantly exposed to the details of other people’s lives causes us to make comparisons to our own, creating feelings of inequity.

Social media isn’t the only culprit—television is another technology which contributes to this shift from a society structured around social gatherings to a culture of technology-driven individualism. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which takes an annual measure of how Americans use their time, the average person spends about 45 minutes daily “socializing and communicating.” Watching TV, meanwhile, accounts for nearly three hours of the average American’s day. This disparity between time devoted to technology and time devoted to social interaction shows that connecting with people in real-time is moving lower on our priority list.

However, a 2010 study from Carnegie-Mellon University points out the difference between passive and active consumption of social media. Watching television or scrolling endlessly through Tumblr feeds are passive activity, and make users feel more depressed and lethargic. But directly interacting with the platform by composing tweets, liking pictures, or reblogging graphics is a more active engagement which boosts feelings of well-being and sociability. Then, too, social media is a useful tool (in moderation) for creating and strengthening long-distance relationships.

Technology has been completely integrated and is now a vital part of our society, but we don’t have to let it isolate us from reality. Exercise self-control when going online. Set yourself 30 minutes or an hour to check your various websites. Call instead of text, and remember to unplug and go forge real connections.