The Internet is one thing and its opposite. It could
remedy the loneliness of many, but it turns out it has
multiplied it; the Internet has allowed many to work
from home, and that has increased their isolation.
And it generates its own remedies to eliminate this
isolation, Twitter, Facebook, which end up increasing it.
--- Umberto Eco
Until we learn how to temper our insatiable lust for social recognition—which social media companies capitalize on—technology will continue to erode our experience of the real world. We will continue to experience less face-to-face interaction and an elusive inner craving for real people in our lives.
Face-to-face relationships are already becoming a nostalgic concept; many are unwilling to cede the convenience and cool detachment of their digital personas to recapture them. Yet, the craving remains.
For this reason, it is no coincidence that “reality shows” became popular after the advent of social media. Before the Internet, many would have responded to the concept of a reality TV show with “Why would I want to watch someone like me?” Now we watch because we are not viewing people like ourselves; rather, we are viewing people like who we once were.
A bi-product of our new affinity for viewing rather than experiencing life is that we are devastatingly lonely. According to a Cigna study based on the UCLA Revised Loneliness Scale released in April 2018, almost 50 percent of Americans are now lonely.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.