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Social Media and Social Isolation

Bercovici, J. (2012). Is Facebook Making You Lonely? Don’t Be Stupid. Forbes. Web.

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In the article for Forbes, Bercovici (2012) defends Facebook, claiming it is not to be blamed for the increased levels of loneliness. The author addresses an earlier publication that placed this blame on Facebook and provides his critiques and counterarguments. First, the author notes the popularity and high engagement rates of pieces criticizing online technology and overdramatizing its effect on society. Second, Bercovici notes that the levels of loneliness have been rising long before the launch of Facebook. The author cites the research that shows that Facebook users have more extensive support networks and more friends. Finally, he acknowledges the drawbacks of social media, such as public shaming. Ultimately, Bercovici states that the rise of loneliness is connected in some way with the development of online technology. However, according to the author, Facebook should not be cast as a single source of the problem.

Dotinga, R. (2017). Can social media sites leave you socially isolated? Consumer Health News. Web.

HealthDay News reports new studies investigating the connection between the use of social media and the feeling of isolation. The piece provides commentary from one of the research’s authors, Dr. Brian Primack, and criticisms by Anatoliy Gruzd. Dotinga notes that the primary research presented in this piece is not the first work on the subject, but it was conducted on a significantly larger scale than previous studies. The author reports the main findings of the research: people who spend more time engaged with social media also have higher levels of isolation. Dotinga cites Primack to note that while the connection was established, it could be that the feeling of isolation causes extended social media use, while the opposite is also possible. Finally, the piece acknowledges the study’s limitations, as it did not consider the type of social media or the manner of engagement.

Kross, E., Verduyn, P., Demiralp, E., Park, J., Lee, D. S., Lin, N., Shablack H., Jonides J., & Ybarra, O. (2013). Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PLoS ONE, 8(8), e69841. Web.

Kross and colleagues (2013) report their findings on the dependence of subjective well-being on the use of Facebook. The authors measured the well-being of research subjects by text-messaging them regularly and asking them to assess their current well-being and overall satisfaction level. These data were correlated with the time the subjects spent on Facebook. The authors report that Facebook use is significantly often followed by a drop in both momentary well-being and overall satisfaction. This decline was observed both in the short term (during the day) and in the long term (over the entire two weeks of the study). The authors report no effect of the sizes and types of the Facebook networks on this decline. Finally, Kross and colleagues note that the drop of the self-assessed well-being was small, albeit statistically significant. The authors also acknowledge that using a bipolar scale to measure well-being introduces limitations to the study.

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