Social Media Alienation: Are We Disconnecting?Digital Marketing
Social media is lauded as the only digital channel that truly revolves around the idea of bringing people together. While this is of course true, analysts and users are finding that its popularity may also be related to a growing trend of alienation and loneliness. The fact that social media may be responsible for loneliness seems strange and counterintuitive at first, but a deeper understanding of the medium and the role it plays in people’s lives makes this fact easier to believe. So if online social media is proving to be a negative influence on some people’s lives, how can and should people and brands use the medium, if at all?
rise of social media
Claiming that social networks are the main cause of the alienation experienced by millions of people can be a bit misleading. However, there is certainly a trend that the loneliness epidemic and the rise of social media correlate in chronological terms. As more and more people became part of ever-expanding social networks, key elements of human interaction began to disappear. Personal interaction was changed to abstract online interaction. Verbal communication continues to decline as more people now communicate with shorter texts or even indirectly. In a way, it seems that the mere awareness of being super connected to a social network at all times made constant communication unnecessary. Since you are already aware of what is currently going on in a friend’s life, it seems redundant to contact that person to connect and find out more about their life.
Indirect communication and alienation
Social media may have started as an idea to connect people with each other, but its evolution has seen it become more of a streaming platform where direct interaction with others isn’t really required. Instead of using online channels to actively build our social connections by talking or connecting with people, many users now operate in isolation, simply posting content and updates that reflect their current situation. While this type of ‘post’ often elicits some form of engagement, such as a quick comment or a brief ‘like’, this is a rare social exchange that could be compared to saying hello to a friend as you pass by on the street.
Lost and gained connections
While social media alienation is certainly a worrying symptom of the digital age and its impact on human interaction and behavior, it also has many stories that contradict the findings of lone social media users. Social media has helped many people connect with more people than they might have otherwise, while also allowing people to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away. In general, much of the social media experience depends on what users do. Those who are susceptible to social anxiety and isolation will likely experience an increase in these feelings through their use of social media, while those who have a natural inclination to socialize will find the platform useful as a complement to their social life.
Social media has changed the way people interact with each other and with brands, and companies that are aware of these subtle changes will do better than their competitors. Understanding how to use social media as a tool rather than a substitute for human connection is the key to a positive experience that can be enriching, useful, and fun.