Are you Lonely?

As part of my “Writing for the World Wide Web” course in the last semester of my Technical Writing degree, the professor set up a course blog where my classmates and I are assigned some articles to read and then engage in discussions about them. I wanted to tell you all about some of last week’s readings and get your response/reaction to them. I have copied my reaction to them below. The four articles with their links are:

“Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”;

“The Flight from Conversation;”

“Sherry Turkle–the flight from conversation… a response.”; and

All the Creepy Things Facebook Knows About You.”

As you can tell from the titles, these readings all have to do with social media and how it is affecting us.  I read these articles but then was stewing over them so much that I was late responding to the blog post, which I should have done last week.  However, I was finally able to wrap my head around the information in these articles and made my response, which I copied below.  I think my final response shocked even me. What do you think about the subject and my response to it?  Just click reply to share your thoughts on these articles.

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My response to the articles:     September 26, 2016 at 7:39 pm

Wikipedia: ‘Loneliness     

“Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation or lack of companionship. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connection or communication with other beings, both in the present and extending into the future. As such, loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by other people. The causes of loneliness are varied and include social, mental, emotional or even physical factors.

Research has shown that loneliness is widely prevalent throughout society among people in marriages, relationships, families, veterans and successful careers.[1] It has been a long explored theme in the literature of human beings since classical antiquity. Loneliness has also been described as social pain—a psychological mechanism meant to alert an individual of isolation and motivate them to seek social connections.[2]”

Loneliness: Causes, Effects and Treatments for Loneliness

“Loneliness is a universal human emotion, yet it is both complex and unique to each individual. Loneliness has no single common cause, so the preventions and treatments for this damaging state of mind vary dramatically. … While common definitions of loneliness describe it as a state of solitude or being alone, loneliness is actually a state of mind. Loneliness causes people to feel empty, alone and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people.
Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone. Instead, it is the perception of being alone and isolated that matters most. …
What Causes Loneliness?
According to research by John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago psychologist and one of the top loneliness experts, loneliness is strongly connected to genetics.
Other contributing factors include situational variables, such as physical isolation, moving to a new location and divorce. The death of someone significant in a person’s life can also lead to feelings of loneliness. Loneliness can also be a symptom of a psychological disorder such as depression.
Loneliness can also be attributed to internal factors such as low self-esteem.
People who lack confidence in themselves often believe that they are unworthy of the attention or regard of other people. This can lead to isolation and chronic loneliness.”

10 Surprising Facts About Loneliness” by Guy Winch Ph.D.  Oct 21, 2014  Pangs that attack your body in ways you never expected.

“…despite how common loneliness is, few people are fully aware of the dramatic ways in which it impacts us. Here are 10 surprising facts about loneliness that will change how you view this all-too-common but devastating psychological condition:
1. Loneliness does not depend on how many friends or relationships you have.
2. More than 60% of lonely people are married.
3. Loneliness distorts our perceptions of our relationships
4. Loneliness is contagious in social networks
5. Loneliness actually makes us feel colder.
6. Loneliness makes our bodies feel like under attack.
7. Chronic loneliness significantly increases our risk of cardiovascular disease
8. Loneliness suppresses the functioning of our immune system.
9. College freshmen who felt lonely had poorer reactions to flu shot.
10. Loneliness is as dangerous as cigarette smoking.
Clearly, loneliness represents a hugely important psychological injury and not one we should ignore. Therefore, make sure to take steps when you are lonely, and to educate lonely people around you about the dangers of remaining lonely.”

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I think the four articles are full of exaggeration, hyperbole, all-or-nothing thinking, and are offensive in their simplistic blaming of a serious condition and global social problem on a social media platform. It makes me angry to think that people read this tripe and believe it! Writers should be more responsible in what they say when it’s for the public.
While I think it is a shame that Ms. Vickers died the way she did, and that she apparently lived without close friends or a support system, I think it is equally a shame that Marche thinks it is all Facebook’s fault.

The discussion about solitude by Turkle and her blaming it on the proliferation of social media, while not as offensive, is equally exaggerated. I know that when you are doing research on a topic, you can get caught up in your findings and things seem so much larger than they are, but, to put it bluntly, a psychologist like Turkle should know better than to lay the blame for a chronic global social condition on some new technology.
The article about what Facebook knows about me is an eye-opener, as I didn’t know there were so many places they can get their info from. The fact that they know every website I go to is rather scary! But I have the choice not to use it if I don’t like it; albeit it’s not much of a choice: stay connected with your family and friends, or don’t. Kind of like the choice we have with using Google or Apple or Yahoo browsers and software – they are all doing it, and we, the consumer, can either like it or choose not to participate. Hm.”

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What are your reactions/responses to these articles?

*Image obtained from Pixabay

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One thought on “Are you Lonely?

  1. So, I moved not to long ago and where I am now both physically and mentally leaves me alone a good portion of the day. But I’m not lonely. The weird thing is that when I see articles similar to the ones you are referencing here I find myself wondering if there is something wrong with me. A case of me over thinking things I think. So, I find myself having to be very firm and stating that yes, I am fine thank you very much. Also, a bit of journey to acknowledge and not apologize for being an introvert.

    Liked by 1 person

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