Just finished a very interesting article from Atlantic Magazine, that not only has implications for marketers and public relations people, but perhaps is a more telling commentary on the state of human relationships. Naturally, the conclusion among researchers is that the technology does not make us more lonely, but it is how we use these tools. There is some fascinating research about social and human interaction that speaks directly to the issue of loneliness and the feeling of connectedness. I’m particularly interested in this subject since I have felt that Facebook legitimizes narcissism. What do you think?


28 thoughts on “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

  1. I have a profound dislike of Facebook, and recommend that nobody use such tools. “Narcissism” is a good word, for it is the majority pandering a persona to mostly strangers, in truth who have no interest in them.

    Facebook is good in finding lost friends and relatives, but bad as stalkers can find you too. The few friends that an individual has, can easily be contacted by other means, such as skype or e-mail, so Facebook is unnecessary.

    1. I definitely agree that Facebook is unnecessary. It’s not even an effective networking tool because of how cluttered it is. I used to have a Facebook page but havent used it in years and yeah it was good for finding long lost friends but I found that I would catch up with them a little in a few emails and then never talk again just like before, almost making me feel bad about it like I should be doing more. Yeah, its just a waste of time and an excuse for people to either complain or brag about their days.

      1. I agree with Alex. I have never had a facebook and do not have the desire for it. Most people who find out that I do not have an account are shocked and think that something is wrong with me. I think that facebook is a waste of time; many people get stuck in a rut where they will go and look into random people’s facebooks and post unnecessary posts or updates. I have seen way more negative things come from facebook compared to positive. I have seen people get fired from their jobs because they were checking their facebook too often, getting in trouble for a post by their school, job, parents, and the list goes on. Many people believe that facebook is a great professional tool and that is very seldom the case. People looking for an effective networking or professional site should consider joining Linkedin.

      2. I agree with Facebook becoming not as relevant as it once was. I first got my Facebook when it came out, and it was the newest thing — with everyone on it. Like Jessica was saying, it was great at first for reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. But after a bit, that communication does die off, it’s just more of a “keeping tabs” on what people are up to. I actually cancelled my Facebook last fall, but surprisingly didn’t miss it at all! The biggest change was the habit of always checking it, which speaks to what Nazanin mentioned below! But, at the same time, I had to re-activate my Facebook account this quarter, as my study abroad trip adviser asked us to utilize a group Facebook page for communication. So, it is definitely still applicable, but I don’t think people use it as much as they once did. At least personally.

      3. I also agree facebook can be used in a good or bad way. For me I found out facebook was useless a two years after my freshmen year of college. My freshman year people would add me that have met me at games, parties or etc. than two years later i found out that facebook is useless because most people have a network of 600 to 5000 friends on their facebook but that doesnt mean that they know each other. Facebook comes handy when firms need to promote their product or what not but other than its useless, because if you really want to talk to someone you would pick up the phone and call them or email them. Whats the point of writing on someones wall and making it visible

    2. Facebook is a good way to keep in touch on music, restaurants, trends, Youtube, humor, events, news, and other social sites. It takes many mediums and consolidates in to one. I’ll keep using it until something better comes along.

      1. I agree facebook is good in that regard; but when you take into consideration all the stupidity that people post and how corporations are looking at facebook as a first step after receiving a resume its quite dangerous

  2. I tend to agree that it legitimizes narcissism, but that narcissistic personality has to be present already, facebook is just a tool for them to display it on a grander scale. I’d delete my account if it wasn’t the easiest way to organise to see my friends face to face.

  3. First off this article was ridiculously informative! (In a good way) It is a very interesting topic and very relevant considering 850 million people use Facebook service. FB is making us lonely because its a different way to interact and connect and perhaps its not a healthy one because we are moving away from personal contact more and more everyday. I wouldn’t say every FB user is a narcissist… only the ones that post a picture every hour and have over a thousand albums. Also it’s pretty ridiculous how much we value fast communication: “800 miles of fiber-optic cable was laid between the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange to shave three milliseconds off trading time”… this is just absurd! FB is also becoming a corporate auditing tool to help them weed out “stupid (people who post profanity, inappropriate pictures etc.) ” applicants so people need to be careful of what they are putting up!

  4. I agree with both of the comments mentioned above. Facebook can be a beneficial tool for people who are attempting to stay in touch with friends and/or family around the world. It is also a great avenue for certain businesses to tap into depending on their target market. That said, I think that some people tend to take facebook to another level by revealing too much information about them. Too much information can impact an individual career, friendship, academic standing and the list goes on. I personally believe some spend more time on facebook checking friends and sometimes even stranger’s profiles than necessary.

    1. I agree with you Nazannin that people are revealing way too much about themselves on their Facebook pages. Especially now when we know that most employers will Google the names of potential employees to determine if they are a good candidate. Some employers are now even asking people to give them their passwords to their Facebook and email profiles. People really should be more cautious online and act as though their every post will be read by their boss.

      1. I agree Dale. People are posting so many things and being way too frivolous with what they post. I’m very private with what I share and I’ll keep it that way. I also try not to spend too much time on facebook. There’s a lot of boring, useless, frustrating things that individuals post that is a waste of time when I can have face-to-face conversations and interactions with people I love.

  5. I believe that Facebook is a tool, that when used in the right way, can be very benificial. It can also be used to legitimize narcissism, but that is what I feel about any type of social networking site. Personally I use Facebook for networking and personal reasons, and for those purposes it is an amazing tool to have. It is helpful to be able to inform hundreds of people about something all at one time. E-mail would be very inefficient for something like this. Also it helps me keep in touch with distant family members and old friends.

    1. I agree that facebook is a tool and is used by many businesses which I think is an effective way to use its services.

  6. I found this article extremely interesting as well. I agree with the posts above that Facebook encourages narcissism. In particular, I found the portion of the article that discussed how online communities are becoming engines of self image. Often I’ve seen or are familiar with someone via Facebook, (pictures, wall posts), before I even meet them. So prior to even having any direct contact, I’ve already created an image of what this person is like, based on how they are portraying themselves on Facebook. Pretty crazy! To follow up on the above post, this does definitely highlight the importance of monitoring our Facebook as many potential employers now check these. I also found it interesting the distinction the article made between composed communication and passive consumption. Facebook does encourage more passive consumption, via “likes” and the News Feed, but I agree that it does depend on how a person approaches the site. If we are only connecting with distant friends, is it really worth keeping?

  7. Ok so the first thing I read in this article is that she had laid dead for a year? The computer still on and glowing up the room as the neighbor walked in? Yeah right! I tend to find that a little fabricated as well as dramatized which is a good way to sum up how I feel about Facebook. As a networking tool, sure Facebook may be useful….once you dig through all of the drama of high school friend’s lives, or what they are eating for dinner, or the latest item of fashion they purchased. I used to have a Facebook page and I no longer use it because I found it absolutely useless. As for lonely? That depends entirely on the person and how they react to their environment. I’m not sure how it can make one lonely when you have the ability to be in touch with so many people but then again if you are not utilizing that function of it and not talking to anyone, only reading how much fun everyone else is having, it could make you feel isolated and alone. Then get rid of it!! It’s all in your head! To that 35 year old single man or woman who wants to be in a relationship and keeps reading how happy your married friends are…it just may make you feel a little bad about yourself. So instead of spending your free time reading about everyone else’s lives, go out and make a life of your own. I did just that, and I have not missed a single thing about Facebook. All of my friends still use it and have no problem catching me up on anything that is going on.
    I agree 100% with the article when it says that those who are lonely are going to be lonely, Facebook or not. The question should be, is it making loneliness worse? That one just may be true. There is always going to be loneliness in this world but it is up to ourselves to do something about it if we feel that way. Those who are lonely, may turn to Facebook for that tiny bit of attention that makes them feel good for a day…that wont solve the problem for everyone. Like the article reads, face-to-face interaction is the best solution for that and also having 2 or 3 best friends helps tremendously. I’m definitely not against people having Facebook, but I would not recommend it either.

  8. interesting article, I agree with one of the comments above about the dead lady still on Facebook its not like Facebook is responsible for her death. I think of Facebook as your own personal newspaper you can post articles and features that are of interest to you or your friends. Which is Narcissism because it is mostly about you. i do think that it is a valuable tool for keeping in contact with people you don’t see often, and also in organizing events and gathering opinions. if you live on Facebook and have 1000 superficial friends, it definitely doesn’t replace real human interaction. i know a person who lives on Facebook, she is obese and cannot move around easily, so it is a valuable way for her to interact with her friends and family.

  9. There are lots of people around me using Facebook just for the sake of the numbers of friend they can connecting with and some even using the information that they see on FB to back stab each other!!!
    I believe there is nothing wrong with using social network to connect to the people you know, but there is a fine line between appropriate usage and disturbing others. Whatever you write, post or say can come back to you if the information is in the wrong hands. Just be caution about it

  10. I admit it, I’m pretty addicted to Facebook, I go there every day, for at least an hour. It has some drawbacks, but it is also very useful to connect with people, even on the professional field, Facebook made it easy to create a private group in which you can communicate instantly with every participant by posting something on the wall of the group , which is particularly effective for project management.

    1. I think that we are all addicted to Facebook, and that is kind of the problem. We use is as the source of our social life and base everything off of what is going on on facebook. I think its a great tool, we just need to utilize it a little bit better.
      I think that we should use facebook in the morning as a “what is going on in the day with my friend circle”, but it has to evolve into going and actually doing something. Touch is one of the most important things for humans to be happy, and the internet does not give us that.

  11. “In 2004, 25% of people said they had no one to talk to”. That is really sad to me, and I have seen this trend building for quite some time now. The reality is that social networks are NOT social networks. They are places where people have profiles, but it does not connect you with people socially. I haven’t seen most of my 309 friends in years. I really just have my close friends that I spend time with, talk to, and have fun with.
    I do like facebook, I just think the way that we are interacting with it is wrong. I think we will get to a breaking point where people are starting to get lonely, and they branch out from social networks to better their social life. I think its already starting and it will continue to become more important. Social networks should be there to support friendships, not become dependent on them.
    I think that facebook will continue to evolve, and I think its still a great way to share things with people. We just need to get out of our houses, and start spending personal time with people, rather than communicating with 39 comments on a posting.

  12. I think that Facebook works great in a positive and negative ways to some people. Some of my friends on Facebook spend a lot of their time on Facebook. Facebook is a great way to get in touch with your family and friend from a far and also built up distance relationship. But the downfall is that people don’t spend time on face to face conversation. Sometimes, I think that people who have a lot of friends on Facebook can also feel lonely because of the lack thereof daily face to face conversation.

  13. I see good and bad in Facebook, I have friends that I met while studying abroad that would be almost impossible to keep in touch with without social networking like Facebook. Although we don’t talk everyday I still feel connected to their lives by being able to see their pictures or if anything new has happened. It creates convenience, which in our fast paced society is always helpful. However, I do think that a big part of Facebook is people just trying to stay relevant. We talk about how we all are our own brand and we are constantly finding ways to promote our brand, Facebook is an outlet to do so without being completely obvious–sometimes. Other times, people over-post and just like an annoying commercial that comes on what seems like every 5 minutes, people will get tired of hearing it. I have been lucky enough to know who my real friends are, not needing Facebook to make me feel like my 900 “friends” are really all going to be there when I need them. Some people however, I don’t think realize the difference which could be the cause of the loneliness.

  14. I think that Facebook is a new trend to use with caution. Facebook can be a great device to stay in touch with people that are not close to you everyday and stay updated of their lives. Facebook can also be useful to find someone for example an old friend from high school and get in touch with them. But in the same time Facebook get people addicted to it and can drives them to become narcissic and even stalkers. And the fact that Facebook make people feel lonely makes a lot a sense because people have a lot of interactions on the internet with their Facebook’ friends but this is virtual and doesn’t replace the human interactions.

  15. i think facebook is giving everyone his own bubble and make them stuck with their phones of personal computers, i found my life changes science i opened an account in facebook, i used to be social and do lots of outside activities, but after i got my account in facebook i started communicating with my friends back home and forgot about the once in here

  16. I think that just like everything else, too much of something isn’t good but enough doesn’t give you the possible benefits. Like most things in this world people will get addicted and use it beyond the expected time. I do believe people are getting worse at F2F communication due to the interaction over social media and text messages but I wouldn’t say that all of that is bad. I would say there is definitely an increase in communication as well seeing that we have so much opportunity to contact almost anyone in the world if they are on the internet. Because business is so global now, I think we can thank mobile/internet communication for bettering our business strategies and relationships.

  17. I think the origination of Facebook was designed to keep people connected. Keep you connected to distant family and friends. This is generally what I try to use it for, however I agree that Facebook has collected many other uses. Its discerning the amount of campaigns (political and otherwise) that fall through Facebook and then the other developments of bullying and using Facebook as a way to hide behind the internet instead of just resolving issues face to face. I sometimes try to remember a time before Facebook and even Myspace and have a difficult time remembering what it was like to just talk to people to find out what was going on in their lives. I have a few select friends whom I talk to in person on a daily basis, but for the others I just check out their Facebook to see what’s new. I will also admit that I sometimes use it to spy on people I’m not exactly fond of, just because I’m nosy. I think these uses (even though I do them myself) is what Facebook has developed into, not what it was originally for. And while it is a useful tool for organizations to promote news and events about them, I believe there need to be some regulations about what is really appropriate for Facebook. Not that I honestly see that happening any time soon, but its a thought.

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