May 11th, 2012

Facebook loneliness

Is Facebook making us more lonely?

Well, it’s not making me more lonely, because I’m not on it—although I suppose if I thought about it, the fact that I’m not on Facebook could make me feel more lonely. But I do think there’s a tendency for the computer in general to make people less likely to have face-to-face encounters, although paradoxically I’ve probably had more face-to-face encounters because of it, not fewer, because I’ve sometimes met fellow bloggers and even a few readers who might live near me or near places I often visit.

A critique of the article is offered here, but somehow I don’t buy it. I think the author isn’t going far enough back in time to make the proper comparison.

What I’ve seen of Facebook tends to remind me of those annual Christmas letters. We can create a narrative of our lives that looks good, whatever it has to do with reality.

Kind of like in this song:

And, of course, someone did take our Kodachrome away in 2009, although it wasn’t mama. It was just the declining market, due to digital photography.

You know when I first noticed the decline of face-to-face socializing, at least in the community where I lived? The 80s, with the advent of the video store. People didn’t have to go out to the movies, or have people over to schmooze or play cards or whatever people used to do (that’s what my parents used to do). Of course, they could rent a movie and have people over to watch that—and of course, sometimes that happened—but it was really easy, after a hard day, to just rent the movie and kick back at home alone, or just the two of you. I used to meet half the people I knew at the local video store on a Saturday night, getting ready to watch movies at home rather than going out together as they used to. Now, even that minimal amount of socializing at the video store doesn’t have to happen; we can stream the movies directly.

Progress. Convenience. But what is lost?

29 Responses to “Facebook loneliness”

  1. texexec Says:

    My wife and I (been married for 52 years) were HS sweethearts and going to movies was the main way we dated. Back then and I mean waaaaaay back then, going to movies WAS a lot of fun. One downtown movie house in Dallas even had great organ concerts on Sat. nights between screenings of the movies.

    Part of the fun was seeing other people there and laughing, crying or whatever was appropriate with them. I suppose you could say movies were more wholesome then as well, although I’m pretty broadminded about sex in movies. Most violence in today’s movies is boring to me. I REALLY get tired of car chase scenes where everything gets blown up and innocent people on busy streets are endangered.

    Nowadays, we rarely go to a movie house. There are a number of reasons:

    1. A better selection of movies is available on NetFlix in DVD or streaming formats. And things to watch other than just current movies are available. There are excellent documentaries, past high quality TV series (Masterpiece Theater as an example), classic movies, etc. Finding an item to watch is easier too, with the search capability in NetFlix.

    2. The cost of watching a movie at home is MUCH lower than when going to a movie house.

    3. Usually, when we DO go to a movie house, the screening room is almost deserted.

    4. Often, the movie houses are filthy.

    5. It *IS* more convenient to watch a movie at home via streaming or DVD. Doing things in your pajamas is not just limited to blogging. 🙂

    We try to do our socializing in other ways at this point of our lives.

  2. Oldflyer Says:

    I went on Facebook to kind of keep up with the Grandkids. Although it is a good way to post news, pictures and comments that you want “friends” to see, my overall impression is that it is kind of sad. People seem to feel the need to reveal intimate details about their lives to a pretty wide audience. On another level, the filthy language that some teenagers feel they need to share,(presumably to demonstrate sophistication?) is truly disgusting.

    I wonder how long this phenomenon will last.

  3. Mr. Frank Says:

    Facebook and texting have also hurt young people’s ability to write.

  4. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Not on Facebook, and never intend to be on it.


    For starters, I view it as the chief culprit and leading the charge for increased Narcissism, and the idea of putting every little bit and detail of your life on display for the whole world to see. Frankly, I don’t really care if this or that person has a zit, can snort beer out of their nose, drives a rust bucket, is constipated today, likes the Beetles, or broke up with their BFF.

    Nor, do I see the virtue in promoting attitudes/emotions/actions that strike me as high school, teen age girl, and angst–filled as those involved in the whole process of “friending” and “un-friending.”

    Privacy has its virtues, and another very good reason not to be on Facebook is the apparently increasingly frequent practice of employers, insurers, universities, law enforcement, and others to data mine the Internet–including Facebook–for potentially disqualify/incriminating information on people. Yeah, great boob shots from that drunken party when you were 19, that hilarious, racy little skit you and a few buds put together, or when you put up that video where you chugged a few beers, put your baseball cap on sideways, and bump fired an AR-15 and chewed up that old car to the sound of “Dueling Banjos.” But how will it play when you want to get a scholarship, loan, security clearance, or a job with some security conscious, straight-laced company that is very concerned about appearances? Seems to me this is an “unforced error,” and that you’ve voluntarily given someone information that is possibly harmful to you that he didn’t need to get.

    Finally, there is the security angle. How many men, women & children have been harmed, scammed, raped, robbed, or even killed because of their access to the Internet and their candor? Why broadcast aspects of your location, life, and activities that can be used to harm you by some crook or psycho prowling around out there in Internet land, and just salivating, looking for the newborn/weak animal in the herd?

  5. Curtis Says:

    Not dying is something to live for.

  6. Curtis Says:

    An even better one:

    Loved the Kodachrome video. Mama don’t take my kodachome, mama don’t take my kodachrome, mama don’t take my kodachrome a way hay ay ay.

  7. George Pal Says:

    I will fiercely deny being a Luddite or a latent conspiracist but it’s the electronics, and the Government, behind social disintegration. It started with the phone, but that was greatly mitigated, thwarted, even reversed, by the automobile (power to the people!). But then came the PC (the damnable personal computer not the damnable political correctness) by which we were introduced to the internet, a product of Arpanet which was funded by Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). With me so far…

    …which, of course, is the aim and purpose of the dictator state, since it is based on the greatest possible accumulation of depotentiated social units…”
    –Carl Gustav Jung

    I’m not sure what ‘depotentiated social units’ are but I’ll bet it’s code for ‘lonely in the basement looking for human contact’.

    Down with Facebook! Down with the government! Up with people needing people!

  8. Curtis Says:

    There she stood in the door way
    I heard the mission bell
    I was thinking to myself
    This could be heaven
    Or this could be hell.

    It’s not the internet or the American Dream which devalues human life. It is us, the actor, the chooser, the person mediating between the extremes. Allow despair or impossible hope to dominate your goals and you’ve lost freedom. The purpose of life, an objective reality, is unavailable to a person unequipped and devolved into a hedonist/junkie.

    Now the interesting thing with progressives is they start with the end catastrophe as if that were a good thing, and then try and make something of it. Life, for the evolutionary biological unit, has no purpose, no life to come, no Creator or Judge to say well or badly done, no nothing. Yes, there is the here and now and speaking to power, but what happens when they become “the power.” We’re watching that now will the bully Obama administration, an administration that does not know who humans are or what makes them happy. Even the pro-Obama crowd is puzzled: What is going wrong? And the real abuse and naked power hasn’t yet begun.

    No worries. There is a built in fail safe device. It may mean our coercion, torture, even death. But all tyrants fall only to be replaced again. Our own American experience by refusing the impossible dream has provided as well as can be expected in this world. If it disappears, you can be sure, there will be memories and yearnings for its reincarnation. Which shall occur.

  9. Teri Pittman Says:

    I sometimes feel like I’m on a different Facebook. What I normally see are people passing along standard propaganda from the Dems (this week, it’s about gay marriage.) I try to point out why the information they are handing out is wrong. When they sent out the stuff on the “war on women”, I pointed out to people that contraceptives don’t prevent STDs and the ones that the Dems were pushing had caused health problems in the past. It’s always interesting when you get a little group of people who can disagree and still discuss their point of view. But mostly, I try and stay off Facebook because I just don’t need that in my life.

  10. Artfldgr Says:

    But what is lost?

    people who live like that find it harder and harder to communicate. their language deviates from each other.

    people start living like i do…
    but they dont have the condition that forces them to.

    and guess what did it?

    well, where did the kids used to learn to commonly socialize, have culture, and so on?

    in a heterosexual normal family..

    and guess who destroyed that as a core goal since the mid 1800s?

    but united we stand
    divided we fall

    E pluribus pluribus

    is it any wonder that in the past people would team up to have success, and the ows kids with all that education, and resources (like laptops) cant team up and do something more productive and more in line with what they want granted them?

    is it any wonder that a drop out woman with 16 kids by 3 fathers has kids who dont get along with the society at large and have regressed to tribal gangs?

    none of this is any wonder….

    IF you know the detailed history, and are self actuated enough to accept the facts as facts and work from there.

    you could have read people telling you this was the end. but the left and fam nazis shut them up about ANYTHING that would clue their victims in on what they were doing.

    you see… to tell them that the end result would be what they leaders were working towards was treason, and had to be quelled. the slaves must not be told they are being liberated from freedom into slavery.

    the ladies said they hated womenl, didnt get laid enough, were mysogynistic, and so on.

    how powerful is that?

    THIS powerful:
    Police and social workers were [Monday] night accused of failing to investigate an Asian [i.e., Muslim, probably of Pakistani origin] paedophile gang for fear of being perceived as racist, allowing them to prey on up to 50 young white girls. …

    oh. the left feminists and all that have trained us to be so afraid of having our own minds and doing whats right..

    same fear. after all, the last thing a young guy would want is some woman tellign all the other women that he was a male chuavanist pig, a jerk, and such.. an then have him be isolated marginalized and so on..

    that was the 70s, but now its for everything. thnk that afirmative action is bad, your a racist gender apartheid homophobe, right?

    One 13 year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted while another was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night,
    Complaints to social workers and the police were ignored because they were “petrified of being called racist”, former Labour MP for Keighley Ann Cryer said.

    they were willing to let children be gang bangs and sexually liberated in multicultural ways


    they feared the femnazis, the racialists and homosexuals will label them as oppressors
    and if that happens they are going to get treated like the white males… or WORSE.

    after all, white males have no right in america to freedom of asembly like the NAACP, NOW, La Raza, Black national socialists, and other VOLK do.
    [edited for length by n-n]

  11. Shorter Artfldgr Says:

    That video was not what I was expecting, based on the preview still.

  12. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    Not dying is something to live for.


    There’s the story of the Texican visiting NYC. A fellow was out on his ledge, and the crowd was egging him on to jump.

    The Texican called out Remember your wife!

    “She left me.”

    Remember your kids!

    “They hate me.”

    At wits end, the Texican says Remember the Alamo!


    Jump, you yankee sumofabitch.

  13. Artfldgr Says:

    oh. i forgot the BEST part

    the problem cures itself

    they either figure out what it is they are doing or not doing… or they end up exterminated and gone…

    so it really dont matter if you like my answer or not. if its correct, and it is. then failrue to accept it, will lead to failure to take corrective action, and so extermination… no babies, no future

    the other answers do not lead to men and women socilaizing as before, and so dont lead to a culture that gets together.

    ergo the men moving to islam… which gives them a family and will result in numbers high enough to crush feminists (but not the nice way)

    others are accepting their infetility and reveling in it, their clocks stopped ticking so they dont care

    and others, like me, have found better options in other cultures not made toxic…

    Of all Asian American/White marriages, only 29% involved an Asian American male and a White female.

    and the numbers are rising a lot
    the women on the other hand..

    A record 14.6% of all new marriages in the United States in 2008 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another.

    Among all newlyweds in 2008, 9% of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 31% of Asians married someone whose race or ethnicity was different from their own.

    now.. combine that 31% of asians, and the fact that they marry white men mostly, and guess who is taking the men rejected by the feminist women?

    ie. the feminist woman on average has had sex with man men, the asian women much less likely to have had that. same with STDs, and being polite, and not thinking of your mate as an enemy

    and when you read things like THIS, you can start to see it. but its not that easy as they try to hide it

    Gender patterns in intermarriage vary widely. Some 22% of all black male newlyweds in 2008 married outside their race, compared with just 9% of black female newlyweds

    now, want to guess who those men are marrying?

    Among Asians, the gender pattern runs the other way. Some 40% of Asian female newlyweds married outside their race in 2008, compared with just 20% of Asian male newlyweds.

    ouch.. guess who THEY are marrying?

    so the asian females are scooping up the men who are great to marry but not when your y oung and having lots of sex (And trying to get obama to pay for birth control and all that)

    then when these ladies decide pulling a train is not the way to go, and they should settle down. they are finding the men with Asian women.. the men who are going for them are african… and so on and so on.

    my sister is in one of these american feminist family things.. she has two kids, a nice husband and i havent seen her for 20 years or maybe more. she nearly didnt visit dad when he died.. and so on.

    she is a modern feminist woman.

    my wife is a foreign asian… she is not a feminist.. but does what she wants.. we visit family twice a year.. we fly to indonesia to see family now so far twice… family comes and visits us. we go to movies, dinners and such together. every month there is a wedding, a first year birth party… celebrations for jobs.. dinners.. we stay in contact constantly.. hobbies are shared..

    prior to her i tried with one of those american women. my life,carreer, and family was destroyed in 5 years and i nearly ended up in prison.

    i looked back and thought.. everyone of those modern women were mental head cases made worse by other mental head cases standing behind them.

    now? my wife and i have a great relationship with my son… but he dont bother with his american mom much.

    if you wanted a society thta got togehther and did things. siding with eugencisits that want to end marriage, separate the sexes races, etc. and push one down while gifting the other..

    would have been an obvious bad idea

    there is a reason why western civ is dying out with all these new ideas, and the chinese with out them have billions of people

    their family first..

    while american women sing the me of me and they come first.

    do you know what happens when there are 10 people and they all want to be first?

    they go alone. then they are all first…
    one captain to a ship, and if everyone is a captain, there are a lot of one woman ships out there.

  14. physicsguy Says:

    Ok, I’m going to be the contrarian here. Facebook is not that bad folks.

    My daughters are on it a lot, and as far as I can tell they spend plenty of time one-on-one with their friends, and they get out a lot in public. What it is very useful for is keeping in contact with people you aren’t able to meet face-to-face. they both have very good friends (through the many years they have played soccer) who live many miles away and they keep in contact with them.

    I use it about twice a week at most. It has been fantastic for reconnecting with my old high school classmates from 30 years ago. Many friendships have been renewed, and it is really great to have some interaction with people who share a common bond of going to school together all those years ago. Just last month I had a birthday, and there were 30 messages from my classmates and not atuo generated. It was heartrwarming.

    “Mr. Frank Says:

    May 11th, 2012 at 12:59 pm
    Facebook and texting have also hurt young people’s ability to write.”

    Not true. I grade student’s writing and have seen no change in over 30 years. They still make the same mistakes as before. The key, to all writing, then and now, is to read alot, and practice writing.

  15. Curtis Says:

    My daughter, the English major (sigh, but the good news is she’s applying to the fine arts department, where, merit and not mere attempt is required), tried to email me once, a message in text. No caps, no punctuation: just one long bilge of letters.

    I demand more and since I’m paying the bills, get to ask for it. I demand good grammar and paragraphs, no tired use of cliches, and an attempt of at least one original metaphor. Her last one: like a bird dropping dung as it flies. (I remember one of her favorite games as even a toddler was the “animal” game where one has to say an animal beginning with the letter of the last letter of previously stated animal.)

    I’m a pretty proud Dad. She’s a pretty damn good painter, works 40 hours a week, and stays out of trouble.

    So the thing with Facebook and kids is “Where are the parents?” Facebook, like candy, should be monitored and regulated. The kid will develop good habits and maintain them.

    Hell with this “life is going to hell in a hand basket.” Romney is up and is staying up. So is Walker. Luger is gone. And we’re just starting. The left is so full of denial and false information that their demise this November will find them open-mouthed and sputtering with rage. Let them rage.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    The three-legged stool of understanding is held up by history, languages, and mathematics.
    Equipped with these three you can learn anything you want to learn.
    But if you lack any one of them you are just another ignorant peasant with dung on your boots. — Robert A. Heinlein

  17. Parker Says:

    I live in a college town with about 65,000 permanent residents. Within the 30 blocks that comprise my neighborhood I know everyone by their first name and the names of all their children. There is a neighborhood association meeting every quarter. Its not unusual for 60-70 people (including a few small children) to attend. There is a family day with music and food in the neighborhood park once a month May through September.

    In nice weather people take neighborhood walks and stop by and chat with you if you are in your yard or on your front porch. Many of us are gardeners and we share what we produce with our nearby neighbors. In other words, there is a strong sense of community and commitment to keeping our neighborhood a great place to live.

    Thanks neo for making me think about my wonderful neighborhood and making me appreciate it more.

  18. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    “People, people who need people
    Are the luckiest people in the world.”

    That apparently is what Facebook is all about.
    Needing people to interact with? Can’t go see your friend? Just reach out on Facebook. It’s impersonal, but it’s contact and communication. It’s both good and bad. Much like most everything else.

    I’m not on Facebook and never intend to be. Just commenting on blogs compromises my privacy enough, thank you. But for those who want to use it, go for it.

    I live in a community somewhat like Parker decribes. Still plenty of interpersonal contact, but not a lot of overzealously social types. About right for me. Mostly, I’d rather read a good book, have a spirited conversation with my wife, or go to the gym rather than hanging out, drinking coffee, shooting the breeze, or having parties.

  19. Doom Says:

    At first I thought you hit it right on the head. I started thinking though. What else might be part of the separation? Mobility is in there. Cars, everyone from what, 16 onward? What caught me off balance at first was that I had not even thought about movie theaters when thinking on these matters before. Computers, sure. Cell phones, yep.

    In the end, while I think you hit upon something crucial I had missed, I think much of the problem is two-fold. Technology, of course. The other? An aging population. I doubt if kids are as constrained as older folks, but too, I think technology accelerates their aging. Well, something like that. Still, that was an excellent point. Theaters, town squares… Interesting.

  20. Indigo Red Says:

    I think it depends on the individual. I was never great at F2F interaction – social anxiety and all that. Facebook and blogging has allowed for a greater interaction group and greater contact with distant friends and family. For decades, I lived hundreds of miles from family and missed the important events in the lives of nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters. With FB I’m in contact with all of them, if not daily, then weekly. I’ve cousins in Australia with whom I now commune daily, my nephew in Cancun just posted he and his wife are expecting their first child, my niece working in Mozambique for WHO shares photos of Africa and her kids the same day. I have reconnected with people I knew as a child, in high school, college, and that year I lived in Italy. I’ve met new people with whom I would never have crossed paths like the artist in Quebec, and the former Canadian Olympian, the interior designer in Chile, the 78 yr old Jewish woman in New Jersey, and the university professor who travels to Afghanistan to moderate talks between women’s rights groups and the Afghan government. Last week another niece and I chatted on FB while she was on duty at Ft Sill waiting for her Sgt to have need of her. Because of Facebook, my world is considerably bigger and immediate than a decade ago. And it’s not weird, it’s a continuing conversation that feels as face to face as talking over the kitchen table, but with people who cannot possibly sit at the same table.

    For thousands of people who are housebound or with limited mobility or social access, FB has given life that was lost or didn’t exist, people to whom TV characters or talk show hosts were their best friends, now have real people with whom to interact like my friend Deni who has been confined within her head because of MS and needs an interpreter when she speaks because she no longer can enunciate but can hold a stylus between her teeth to type.

  21. Richard Says:

    Television and air conditioning the two most socially destructive inventions ever!

  22. NeoConScum Says:

    Whew…I was gonna say exactly what artfldgr said so succinctly but, dagnabbit, the boy beat me to it. Instead I’ll boil what was said down to that ageless quote from ol’Rene Descartes: Defaco Ergo Sum.

  23. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Founder of FB renounces his citizenship for profitability.
    It’s official FB is unAmerican.

  24. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Ed Bonderenka–Such a renunciation for financial reasons may not work.

    I was startled a few years ago to come across the information that there are U.S. laws/regulations allowing the IRS to go after any high income/wealthy U.S. citizen–who they deem to have renounced their American citizenship to evade taxes–and to try to force them to pay–apparently enforced via reciprocal treaty obligations with many other countries (some language about Income Tax issues usually a standard feature of most bilateral or multilateral treaties between the U.S. and other countries)–U.S. taxes on their income for the next ten years, even though they reside in another country and are no longer U.S. citizens.

  25. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    P.S.–So U.S. citizens (especially if they are wealthy) are not really “free,” and able–if they so desire–to just simply renounce their U.S. citizenship, move to another country and take up citizenship and residency there, slipping free of the bloodsucking tentacles of the IRS.

  26. Mac Says:

    I’m on Facebook, and for me its downside is not really any different from that of the web in general–it’s just another stop. For me it’s not that different from the handful of blogs I visit regularly: check in once or twice a day, maybe more if there’s something interesting going on, maybe less if I’m especially busy.

    Which is not to say that the downside of the web in general is insignficant. I do spend too much unproductive time there.

  27. Curtis Says:

    Yes, MAC.

    Is barbequeing unproductive time? Should all time be productive time?

    We have no choice in the matter of whether or not it is. It is. Now, we, the ones God gave free choice to, decide it’s boundaries.

    Husbands. See?

    And so enters in who God gave authority to and who He gave as a helpmate. When males abdicate their role as husbands, not only of family, but of job, earth, and sky . . . well, something is going to fill the void.

  28. Pat Says:

    Facebook is what you make of it. When I look at my circle of friends, it comprise people in the running community and family in NZ, Australia and South Africa. I know a lot more about my foreign relatives than I would have before FaceBook. I can interact with my late brother’s daughters and their children more than ever before. I’ve never met them, but I feel I know them as family. You couldn’t do this with Xmas cards and phone calls. How else can you share the pictures of a grand-niece’s event with family and friends at zero cost?

    Running is very social and communal. We share our successes, failures and stories on Facebook. But, it turns out my brother-in-law in NZ is also a marathoner, so we get some cross-pollination.

    What most surprise me about Facebook is how poorly targeted the ads are. I’ve yet to see a running shoe ad or a cheap flights to South Africa ad.

  29. NeoConScum Says:

    “Friend” me..?! “Tweet” me?! WT*?!

    I’ve asked younger friends to please tell me–s’plain it clearly & slowly, with teaching aids like their cool 1-thingies–what the ‘deal’ is with facebook & twitter. They have patiently done so. I still have NO interest. Dumbing down. Discourteous. Millions of little pinheads trying sooooo hard to be little ‘Stars’!

    So…Friend this,’Yo. And….Tweet this,’Yo.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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