Does Facebook Make People Lonely Or Do Lonely People Use Facebook?
There are people who will derail everything that exists in this world. A majority of such people are those who will debate how social media has made people lonely and get all philosophical about it. Ironically, they might even be carrying the debate on the social medium like Facebook itself.
However, researchers have found that it is not Facebook which makes people lonely, it is the lonely people who mostly use Facebook. Hayeon Song, an assistant professor of communication at UWM, analyzed data from existing studies to conclude that there is a relationship between use of Facebook and loneliness of the user.
They derived from this research, that the feeling of loneliness and fear of confronting people is what actually compels most of the users to Facebook, rather than the platform making people lonely.
The researchers chose Facebook as their point of study because it is the most popular online social media site, which enables people to share their personal information, interact with other people and even make new friends. 54% of the time users are online globally, they are using Facebook.
The researchers faced two contradicting hypotheses about the so called “Internet paradox.” Song says:
Does spending so many hours with a machine keep people from making real connections with other people? Or, does it allow people who are shy or socially awkward a chance to connect with others in a way that’s more comfortable for them than face-to-face communication?
There has been massive research on the effects of Internet on our daily lives but rarely any about Facebook in specific. Still, Song, with her team, reviewed all the data that has so far been published on the issue, by searching databases for the keyword “Facebook,” along with other terms such as anxiety, shyness and loneliness.
“Some researchers found a ‘positive’ relationship between Facebook use and loneliness and some people found the opposite,” Song says.
Based on the data collected, the relationship found between Facebook use and loneliness was as such: as loneliness increases, the time spent on Facebook increases. This means that Facebook does not actually reduce loneliness even if we “feel” less lonely while using it.
Song had initially questioned, “Does Facebook make people lonely or are lonely people more attracted to Facebook?”
To this question, her research managed to offer a pretty direct and clear answer: “We found that loneliness caused Facebook use rather than the other way around.”