Over the years, the use of social media has significantly grown and has especially been propelled by the availability of internet and affordable smartphones among other gadgets. This has impacted on the society such that people no longer feel the need for physical interactions and connections have now shifted online. While it has its very many advantages and has improved the world in many ways, social media comes with its own share of negatives and one such question that is asked in regard to the negative impact of social media is if it causes isolation.
Overdoing anything leads to negative impacts and social media is no exception. People who use social media constantly are more inclined to feeling socially isolated. This is according to a research that also links spending more time on social media to depression, anxiety and esteem issues. Firstly the use of social media and especially Facebook plays a huge role in contributing to self-esteem issues (Hawi and Samaha, pg. 582). Being an online platform, not everyone is going to be as real as they could in real life. Therefore, it is quite possible for a person to obsess and feel less of a person because they feel like they cannot match up to what people on social media platforms are doing, which might not even be true in the first place. Not everyone understands that most people live an illusion on social media (Gonzales and Hancock, pg. 79). Thus a person might isolate themselves from the rest of the world as a result of feeling insignificant and not good enough. Having low self-esteem definitely leads a person away from interacting with people physically (Quan-Haase and Young, pg. 354). People already suffering from isolation will always feel that by spending more time online, they’re making themselves better. This however only makes the situation worse and the isolation grows instead of wearing off.
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Furthermore social media could get addictive. It might initially start out as spending an hour online then two and eventually an individual cannot break themselves out of the vicious cycle that they have adapted. This therefore means that a person has little time to interact even with their own family and friends. According to Hawi and Samaha (pg. 585) isolation cannot be taken lightly as it is a psychological problem that could lead to more complex issues, both physically and psychologically. In graver situations it has led to people committing suicide over things happening on social media, cyber bullying, or in challenges such as the Blue whale challenge. All of these things happen in isolation because if people are able to come out and share what is happening online, physically perhaps with a parent, guardian or friend, then they might get help. More so, regulation of the internet and how much time children especially spend online and what sites they access is a role that every parent should take on (Gonzales and Hancock, pg. 81). This will effectively help them to detect whenever their kids are not okay and thus it will be easy to point out the first signs of isolation and act on them accordingly.
It is important to observe that the issue of whether social media creates isolation also brings along another debate; do social media platforms create isolation or do the lonely seek solace on social media? Like the chicken and the egg, there may be no conclusive answer on which comes first. However, even in the case that the lonely seek to find some form of consolation from social media, this has not been the case and depending on solution media only worsens the state of loneliness. Social media may have tried to fill in a void in regard to social interaction especially since it is a global village. However, it has begun feeling like social media is not the solution that people were looking for when they thought about trying to fill up the social gap that existed. What social media does is, it tries to put a person into compartments which probably leads to the isolation problem among others; humans are social beings and trying to mess with this course of nature contributes to these negative impacts. Spending more time on social media and less time on physical interactions is definitely taking one away from exercising their own social capacities.
The world is at a point where scrapping of the internet and social media is not possible. Technological advancements are being made daily and this means that the world can only expect more platforms. This is definitely detrimental unless stringent measures are put in place especially by parents so as to ensure that children and especially teenagers are able to find a balance with social media and real life interactions. The problem of isolation cannot be ignored as it is the seed that sprouts out and bears fruits of depression, dementia, and anxiety disorders and in some cases the cause of death.
- Amy L. Gonzales & Jeffrey T. Hancock. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. February 2011, 14(1-2): 79-83. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2009.0411
- Hawi, N.S. & Samaha, M. The Relations among Social Media Addiction, Self-Esteem, and Life Satisfaction in University Students. Social Science Computer Review. (2017). 35 (5), pp. 576-586
- Quan-Haase, A. & Young, A., L. Uses and Gratifications of Social Media: A Comparison of Facebook and Instant Messaging Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. (2010). 30 (5): 350–361. doi:10.1177/0270467610380009.