Ideally, humans are social beings who value relationships at different levels. They depend on each other for economic sustenance and emotional satisfaction. Through social interactions, individuals share distressing experiences that have far-reaching implications on psychological wellbeing. Thus, social interactions are therapeutic and instrumental in addressing the various mental problems that populations grapple. Conversely, social isolation leads to incidences of stress and depression that undermine performance and productivity. Fundamentally, isolation disintegrates social relations and confines individuals to a world of emotional distress. Modern populations engross themselves in technology that disconnects them from real life interactions. In his review, Marche (2012) repeatedly insists that use of new media and Facebook culminates in a state of loneliness that affects the health of the users negatively. Individuals in these environments focus more on creating idyllic mental representations of their social life than on taking practical steps to create and sustain real life relations with others.
In order to establish and maintain viable relationships, effective communication is vitally imperative. Through communication, individuals express their needs clearly, understand the problems that their peers face, and develop effective intervention measures to address the respective challenges. Besides physical meetings, modern populations interact through virtual platforms. Social network environments such as Facebook and other forms of media necessitate this interaction and allow populations to share experiences and perceptions regarding various issues. However, Marche (2012) indicates that use of Facebook compromises the ability of populations to communicate effectively. In this regard, the technological tools and features do not allow individuals to relay personalized messages that are meaningful and comparatively socially binding. Resultantly, it prevents them from initiating beneficial relations and encourages social seclusion. Individuals emphasize more on spending time in virtual environments at the expense of meeting individuals in real environments. Facebook distances populations from their families and friends and strains the relations that are otherwise rewarding.
Use of Facebook makes populations lonely because it disconnects them from real life situations, confines them to virtual environments, breaks existing social links, and prevents them from initiating, maintaining, and strengthening actual relationships that improve their mental and physical wellbeing. According to Marche (2012), extended use of this social network decreases social loneliness in online settings but strains familial relationships. In addition, it prevents an individual from interacting physically with people and establishing meaningful connections. Apparently, lonely individuals tend to spend more time on this social site and use multimedia to explore the internet. Nonetheless, the relations that they create on social networks with strangers are superficial and therefore non-beneficial.
The following questions will guide this study:
- How does use of Facebook affect mental and physical health of users?
- How does use of Facebook contribute to loneliness amongst users?
Unlike traditional populations, modern individuals capitalize on the use of technology to improve efficiency and performance. As a modern tool, Facebook attracts a significant percentage of users. This social networking site has various features that allow individuals to communicate with each other instantly. Emergent research indicates that this social tool allows individuals to make friends from diverse social, economic, and cultural backgrounds in virtual environments. From the outlook, this implies that Facebook increases the social network of users by exposing them to varied environments online. Through constant communication, Facebook allows users to share both information and personal experiences. Although creation of relationships and sharing of information ought to lead to strong relationships, psychological effects of use of this tool are counterproductive. Statistical evidence ascertains that use of Facebook has led to an increase in incidences of stress amongst populations (Balick, 2013).
In his in depth research, Marche (2012) ascertains that loneliness has negative implications on the wellbeing of individuals. According to this study, use of Facebook culminates in social isolation because individuals distance themselves from real life scenarios. They spend a significant percentage of their time posting messages and liking the information that their virtual friends present in these networks. This implies that the lifestyles of users are mostly sedentary. Thus, they are vulnerable to developing various health complications that relate to obesity. Besides cardiac complications, Marche (2012) posits that the individuals suffer from sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, poor memory, and cognitive decline. These complications increase their stress levels and contribute further to their social isolation. The complications have negative effects on their self-esteem and hence compel them to a life of loneliness. The users prefer working in solitude, not because they find the practice satisfying, but because they consider themselves socially unacceptable.
Allam (2010) agrees with the preceding findings and believes that there is indeed a positive relationship between use of Facebook and depression. In his consultative research, he points out that Facebook presents individuals with a wealth of information regarding the lives and personal experiences of various users. In some instances, users find this information overwhelming and difficult to accept. Furthermore, users experience demeaning feelings of inadequacy whenever they view the profiles of their prospering friends. This makes them to experience negative feelings such as envy, resentment, and jealousy that affect their moods negatively. In addition, stress and depression stems from the efforts that the users make when posting information and pictures on these profiles in order to attain social approval. Usually, relative tasks are complex and thus energy surging and emotionally exhausting. Likewise, this study established that individuals that spend a significant period on this social network struggle with low esteem. Although low socio-economic status and gender can also cause low self-esteem, Facebook does contribute to this undesirable state.
According to the findings of Binsley (2012), face-to-face interactions lead to development of stronger social relationships than other forms of interactions. This study indicates that physical meetings allow individuals to understand the experiences of their peers effectively. They lessen incidences of misunderstanding and misinterpretation of messages that culminate in conflicts. Immediate presence encourages individuals to confide in others when need arises. This results in creation of beneficial strong relationships amongst groups and individuals. It eliminates loneliness because individuals have an opportunity to meet physically with their peers and derive the greatest degree of satisfaction from the interactions that they have. Such gatherings also allow for formation of strong bonds amongst individuals. From a psychological viewpoint, this is emotionally satisfying and strengthens social networks. By discouraging physical interaction, Facebook encourages loneliness (Binsley, 2001).
The study undertaken by Tazghini and Siedlecki (2012) reveals that use of Facebook contributes in different ways to low self-esteem. Findings of the study assert that individuals who spent more time on this social network platform suffer from low self-esteem. Users of Facebook tend to post biased information on this platform with the aim of provoking others. Coupled with skewed comparison tendencies, this has negative effects on the feelings of ardent users. Specifically, this information makes the users consider themselves socially inadequate because of an inability to keep up with the trends of their peers. The impacts are particularly detrimental in instances where the image of these users does not match that of other facets of the population. Besides affecting the behaviors of such users negatively, Tazghini and Siedlecki (2012) indicate that this leads to stress and depression. The study concludes that information on facebook does not provide a realistic view of the lives of users. By focusing on the positive aspects of the lives of other users, Facebook influences individuals to adopt unhealthy competition.
In their study, Jenkins-Guarnieri, Wright and Johnson (2013) found that use of Facebook affects the mood of individuals and influences their behavioral tendencies adversely. Using periodic surveys and observation, the study established that use of Facebook darkened the mood of the participants over time. Ideally, the use of this tool limits the time users can contemplate and edit their information before they present it to the outside world. Naturally, individuals take longer time to develop clever responses that can always depict them positively. For this reason, users in some cases present unedited information that is reflective of the challenges and problems that they face. Thus, whenever they view the tailored versions of their friends’ posts and images, that are comparatively positive, they develop feelings of envy and jealousy. Coupled with resentment, this has negative effects on the ability of the individuals to maintain positive relations. It results in behavioral problems and contributes to social conflicts and hatred. All these tendencies affect the personality of the users negatively (Jenkins-Guarnieri et al, 2013). In extreme instances, it contributes to loneliness because of disintegration of real friendships.
Relative to this, Marche (2012) reports that use of Facebook contributes to increased narcissism. According to this review, Facebook addicts exhibit narcissistic symptoms including attention seeking tendencies and lack of empathy. Because of the need to attain, social approval Facebook users spend time posting photographs and information about the positive aspects of their lives. In certain instances, they concentrate more on posting negative comments about the posts of their prospering counterparts. This is particularly so for individuals who struggle with the negative effects of low self esteem (Deters & Mehl, 2013). According to the findings of Deters and Mehl, (2013), narcissistic individuals are more likely to experience loneliness especially during their old age. From a psychological point of view, narcissistic tendencies prevent individuals from establishing mutually benefiting relationships. Put differently, they encourage social isolation and contribute to a state of loneliness.
Extensive use of Facebook has adverse effects on the relationships between couples and persons of opposite sex. In his review, Balick (2013) found that use of social networks in some instances breaks important romantic relations and bonds. In this study, a certain percentage of participants reported that use of Facebook led to a break in the relationships that they had with their boyfriends. They attribute this to feelings of jealousy and envy that arose whenever female users flirted with their boyfriends online. Reportedly, these made them to feel insecure and eventually, they grew intolerant. By breaking such strong bonds, Facebook prevents an individual from establishing quality relationships in future. Ultimately, it compels them to an isolated and alienated lifestyle. Although such individuals may have thousands of friends online, they find it difficult to maintain real relationships in physical settings (Balick, 2013). Breaking of these social links erodes the trust as well as confidence that affected individuals have in each other.
Summarily, there is a strong positive relationship between use of this social networking tool and loneliness. Although users may have numerous friends online, the relationships that they share in these environments are superficial and therefore disadvantageous. Instead of strengthening their connections, they distance them from real populations and strain vital familial relations. The literature review further establishes that Facebook addicts experience personality disorders related to narcissism. Besides negative health effects, they grapple behavioral issues that prevent them from establishing lasting relationships (Jenkins-Guarnieri et al, 2013).
This study will utilize the survey design to collect important information regarding the subject under review. It is the most appropriate approach to for this population and it will specifically underscore the understanding and perceptions of the population regarding the relationship between use of Facebook and loneliness. With regard to the population, the study will utilize second year students of this institution. The decision in this regard was reached after undertaking a pilot study and establishing that most Facebook users in this institution are in their second year. The researcher will utilize random sampling to select the participants from different social, cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds. Furthermore, use of purposive sampling will put in consideration the age and experience of the participants with respect to use of Facebook. With regard to instrumentation, the researcher will employ a structured questionnaire that will address various variables of the research question.
Specifically, it will have two sections; the first one will seek data relating to the demographic attributes of the participants while the second section will address matters pertaining to how use of social media such as Facebook contributes to social isolation, health complications, and loneliness. This segment of the questionnaire will comprise of sixteen questions that will revolve around themes such as frequency of use of this social media tool and reasons for its use by this facet of the population. In addition, this section will address factors pertaining to the number of friends that users have, the strength of the relational bonds that they share, impacts of its use on social relations, physical health, and psychological wellbeing, the contribution of its use to isolation and loneliness, and so forth.
In addition to employing open and closed ended questions, the study will use likert scales in some items in order to determine the attitudes and viewpoints of the participants. Before administering the questionnaires personally, the researcher will seek consent of all the participants and explain to them that they are not obligated to take part in the study. This session will also include informing them about the confidentiality of the research findings. The researcher will then take time to explain the objectives and the research questions to the participants. This will be helpful in ensuring that they provide relevant feedback that addresses the entire aspects of the research. Participants will be given ten days to complete the questionnaire, after which the researcher will collect and analyze findings accordingly.
Allam, F. (2010). Excessive internet use and depression: Cause-effect bias? Psychopathology, 43 (5), 121-126.
Balick, A. (2013). Networking: connected up instantaneous culture and the self. New York: Karnac Books.
Binsley, D. (2012). The lonely billion: Facebook’s negative effect on your real friends and privacy. New York: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Deters, F. & Mehl, M. (2013). Does posting Facebook status updates increase or decrease loneliness? An online social networking experience. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4 (5), 579-586.
Jenkins-Guarnieri, M., Wright, S. & Johnson, B. (2013). The interrelationships among attachment style, personality traits, interpersonal competency, and Facebook Use. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2 (2), 117-131.
Marche, S. (2012). Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? The Atlantic.
Tazghini, S. & Siedlecki, K. (2012). A mixed method approach to examining Facebook use and its relationship to self esteem. Computers in Human Behavior, 29 (3), 827-832.