ELSEWHERE: We’re Made for Relationship, Not Social Networking

A new study from the University of Michigan found that the more participants used Facebook, the more likely they were to feel sadness and dissatisfaction. These results echo previous studies that show face-to-face interaction with people makes us happier and healthier. There is a growing awareness among scientists that communications technologies are inadequate substitutes for the real thing; and, ultimately, we are made for relationship, not social networking.

About James Hoskins

James Hoskins is a teacher, writer, musician, and philosophy geek. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a M.A. in Science & Religion from Biola University. James teaches philosophy and science classes at a private, college prep high school in the Kansas City area. You can find him at his blog PhiloLogos, and on Twitter under @clumsybrute.

  • Susan_G1

    old news from a new study. wow.

  • http://Liter8.net/ Christopher Hutton

    Not….exactly. IF you look at the actual data, the depression doesn’t seem to correlate directly with the platform of Facebook, but with the general behaviors performed on the Internet, which themselves exist as manifestations of offline emotions and desires.


  • Susan_G1

    I did read the study before. This is the whacky study where they email their smallish group 5 times a day and ask them how much they’re using facebook and how happy they are. If I was getting emails five times a day asking me how happy I was, my happiness rating would most likely go down as well. A poorly conceived study, small group. Same old news.

  • James Hoskins

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone should interpret the data as suggesting that Facebook makes people depressed, but other websites, like Twitter, don’t. I doubt very much that simply using any particular social website can make a happy person depressed (unless it’s election day). I take it more as evidence that digital relationships, as convenient and good as they can be, are poor substitutes for good ‘ol fashioned face-to-face interactions. Social networking is good. But real interaction with people is better. That’s what I was getting at.

  • http://Liter8.net/ Christopher Hutton

    Eh. I don’t know if I’d go that far. What makes you think that physical relationships and digital relationships are fundamentally different? This is where we too often fall into the fallacy of “digital dualism”, where we think that the digital and physical world are separate, and have differing values. However, if we watch the way we interact with both, it becomes clear that the two are intertwined, in an augmented reality.
    After all, They’re both based on the same human essence of connection, and provide the same function, whether it be via Facebook. Skype, or App.net.

  • James Hoskins

    Why do I think they are different? Well, two reasons: (1) Personal experience. Face-to-face we get things like touch, body language, and voice tone. Those things greatly enhance our relationships, but we don’t get them through FB or Twitter (emoticons just don’t move me the same way). (2) The research of Barbara Fredrickson. Click the second link in my article and read a great overview from her on how face-to-face interaction affects us biologically. It’s fascinating.

    For the record, I’m not a “digital dualist.” I love FB and all forms of digital communications. They are great supplemental ways to connect with people.

  • http://Liter8.net/ Christopher Hutton

    I read it. Interesting piece, though it makes me wonder; how does the body get that information? So, would the face-to-face results work via a system like Skype, or does it require the physical presence of a person? How does the body detect that? And is it impossible to train the body to perform emphatically with the digital screen as well? I’m interested, but skeptical as well. I’d have to research social genomics more, but it is a pressing question to ask.

  • Navjeet Singh

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