We increasingly hear about how social online networks are. I question the accuracy of these claims. Is a relationship that exists strictly online truly social? I don’t think it is. I think the bridge must be built from online to off, or the quality of relations will suffer or drop off altogether.
Technology aside, many people are struggling to establish and maintain personal relationships today. Reuters reports that Americans are more socially isolated than they were 20 years ago.
Nearly a quarter of people surveyed said they had “zero” close friends with whom to discuss personal matters. More than 50 percent named two or fewer confidants, most often immediate family members, the researchers said.
Duke University Professor Lynn Smith-Lovin, lead author on the study to be published in the American Sociological Review said that part of the cause could be that Americans are working more, marrying later, having fewer children, and commuting longer distances.
Ties to a close network of friends creates a social safety net that is good for society, and for the individual. Research has linked social support and civic participation to a longer life, Smith-Lovin said.
It seems to me communications technology is one of the most paradoxical realities of our time. We have all these devices to connect us to other people, but the more info we put in and extract from our machines, the less attention we have to invest in people. There’s something seriously wrong here.
[via Bullshit Observer]