Have smartphones made us more lonely?
"1000's of friends & followers blowing up my phone round-the-clock, yet I feel connected to none of them."
Resonate with you?
Just as TV hooked people in during the 20th century, the internet became our electronic drug of choice in the 21st - both mediums subtly pulling us away from the real world.
As with many addictions, the most significant cost could be it's effect on relationships, which diminish in quality & quantity.
Technology has given us many powerful tools, which we can leverage to build our communities and networks with markedly greater efficiency than ever before.
The problem arises when we substitute physical relationships & interactions for digital ones.
> Smartphones are making us less empathetic. One study observed couples chatting in public. 29 percent of the pairs had a phone in hand or on the table. These people later rated their conversations as less fulfilling than did those without their phones, and they reported experiencing less empathy for their companion. Even without active use of a device, keeping one in sight can be a distraction, leading people to make less eye contact & miss subtle communication cues, such as changes in facial expression.
> Around 40% of communication is non-verbal. Text on a screen does not transmit emotion accurately. Therefore, we are significantly more likely to misinterpret digital messages, and believe it or not, other people will misinterpret yours, regardless of how many emojis you use.
> We are all guilty of using electronic communication to avoid confrontation or awkward situations. It feels easier in the moment, but the outcome is often worse.
> One study on young adults aged 19–32 found that people with higher social media use were more than three times as likely to feel socially isolated than those who did not use social media as often.
Phones have cheapened human interaction. Sending a DM or posting on Instagram does not adequately satiate our need for social connection in the way that physical interaction does.
Tossing our phones in a river is not the solution to the loneliness epidemic. A sufficient dose of meaningful, in-person interactions with good people is probably the best place to start.
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