Facebook, Twitter, social media can leave us lonely and lacking, UA study says

Facebook, Twitter and the throngs of other social media sites can be fun – but they can also ruin our health, a University of Arizona study found.

Facebook offers instant "friendship"/Ryn Gargulinski

Facebook offers instant "friendship"/Ryn Gargulinski

Sure, we all love hearing about our “friends’” ordeals potty training their children or walking their dogs in the wash, but these superficial connections may end up leaving us lonely, lacking and depressed.

“Relationships that lack strong connections – common when established online through Facebook, Twitter, and the like – can result in feelings of detachment and even health problems such as poor sleep and high stress,” notes an article on CNET.

“And while the precise role that online social networking plays is not fully understood, this research indicates it doesn’t help foster close relationships.”

You think? How absurd to find that the dozens – or even hundreds or thousands – of followers and friends we rack up on our social media accounts don’t count as deep and meaningful relationships.

Superficial and surface relationships have become the norm. Even if such a practice did not make us lose sleep or wallow in misery, it is a dangerous trend.

We even see folks go out on a date, or in another face-to-face encounter with someone else – only to ignore the person in front of them to update their “status” or Tweet one more blurb.

Pretty sick.

For the younger set, the danger is even more pronounced. Kids that relate or communicate only through social media may never learn how to behave in a real-life social setting.

We thought chivalry was dead before – just wait until someone sticks an “unlike” sign on our backs.

Real-life relationships? Who needs them. We have 542 Facebook friends and 12,954 Twitter followers. That must mean we know how to relate.

This doesn’t mean social media is a bad thing. It provides lots of laughs, oodles of information and enjoyable discussions.

It’s also one of the grandest time-wasters ever invented, one that still makes us feel like we’re doing something useful or important.

But it does become detrimental when it serves as the only relationships we have with others. Instant friendship – just click here.

In this very busy world with our enormously busy lives, instant relationships are so much easier than actually investing the time and energy it takes to forge a deep and meaningful one.

So we read about our “friends’” potty training and dog walks and call it a day.

Right after we tend to our Farmville livestock or feed our Facebook fish, of course.

NOTE 1: UA’s Chris Segrin and Stacey Passalacqua conducted this social media study, which included 265 people aged 19 to 85.

NOTE 2: I’m a big Facebook fan – it’s way too much fun. Besides, a good number of my “friends” are friends in real-life. Twitter is OK but tends to overwhelm me.


What do you think?

How much time do you spend each day on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites?

Have you been depressed lately?

Do you think too many people are relying on social media connections as the only relationships in their lives?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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12 Responses to Facebook, Twitter, social media can leave us lonely and lacking, UA study says

  1. leftfield says:

    Good Morning, Ryn.  I voted “No”.  Though I do have a facebook page, I have to confess I really don’t get it.  It does help me keep up with distant relatives and friends that I other wise would not email or call.  On the other hand, I rarely see anything of substance that is worth the time.  Most of the postings I see are the kind of incosequential day to day goings on that are not of much interest to me: the weather is bad, I have a test tomorrow, the dog did the cutest thing yesterday, etc.  I don’t understand why do many people think it is important to post how they’re feeling or what they are doing at a given moment.   I have also noticed that when I bring up anything political or otherwise significant, it seems to be considered bad form.  It is as though people like their Facebook communications to be shallow and vapid and they want it to stay that way. 

    The final straw was when my own daughter “unliked” me.  She said I was “all up in her business”.  Maybe I’m just to old to understand the point or even if there is a point.     

    • Rynski says:

      morning, leftfield.
      oh, no! the ‘unlike’ by a child! hahhaha – ahhh, i, too, have found facebook, twitter, etc. is not the best place for parent/children relationships – and that’s been controversial in several cases, with parents posting naked baby pictures or brining up goofy stuff – one article i read recently told parents how to sneakily spy on their kids through facebook without ‘friending’ them…anyway….
      i don’t know about the ‘any given moment’ syndrome, either – and now there is the option of posting a MAP! showing your location at any given moment – hahahha.
      that stuff aside, i do have lots of fun on facebook, as noted above. i look at the sites as IN ADDITION to real-life relationships all we no-person-is-an-island humans are supposed to have, not in place of them.
      p.s. did i mention the dog did the cutest thing yesterday…..hahahahahhah!

    • Dr. D says:

      Leftfield, I don’t usually see eye to eye with you on matters, however, we have common ground here with this topic. I agree with your views and sentiments about Facebook. I have a Facebook page, but rarely log onto it for the same reasons that you discuss regarding its negatives. I guess soon my kids will “unike” me as well. I better prepare for that.

  2. Jennatoolz says:

    Heya Ryn!! I like Facebook…but it’s true. Most of the people on there are just posting about their day, how angry they are at someone, etc. I’m guilty of it too. I have Facebook on my phone so I can check it anywhere, anytime. Why??? I have no idea. It’s like a habit at this point.

    I realized quite recently that I have fallen into that lonely, non-friend-having hole. Besides Aaron, I have NO close real life friends that I feel that I can just call up and go have a drink or hang out whenever I feel like it. I spend a lot of my free time playing an MMORPG and conversing with “friends” on there because I’m bored and have nothing better to do. I’m not trying to start a pity party here. I’m just using myself as a real example of how Facebook, even online games, can turn you into a hermit. I do like having Facebook because it has allowed me to connect with old friends and such, but I still don’t talk to them on a regular basis.

    Oh, by the way…Dante did the cutest thing yesterday… 😉

    • Rynski says:

      hiya jenna!
      i hear ya on the facebook/computer power – i can end up sucked in, hitting little LIKE buttons for an hour before i even realize what the heck happened -hahah.
      it IS too easy to get pulled in – and forget about the real-life things, friends included.
      facebook et. al. does work, as we saw, to bring people together for a picnic in real life…but relationships do take a LOT of work.
      thanks for honest input – one of my friends caught herself on facebook one day for a long spell then abruptly closed it down, saying ‘this makes me feel like i’m connected even though i’m not.’
      think that one sums it up best!
      p.s. feel free to e-mail/call any time you want to real-friend to the dog park with the ‘kids.’ sawyer and phoebe are always eager!
      p.p.s hahahhaha! so glad dante did the cutest thing….did i mention what phoebe was up to? hahahah

  3. koreyk says:

    I have mixed feelings about Facebook.  While it is a very powerful tool for connecting with family and friends, or reconnecting with long lost friends, the potential for unintended consequences is high. 

    Like a lot of FB users, I sometimes  look up people I know.  I mean, isn’t that what it’s all about?  One time I was checking the profile of someone I knew in an unconventional sense, and only later met in person.  I clicked on their relationship link, and whuddaya know, the profile picture is one that I just saw somewhere else.  And, it made clear something that maybe neither party wanted to be public knowledge in some circles.  I suddenly felt like some slimy pervert stalker, and no amount of soap could wash it off me.

    Now, all of this was on their public pages, and every bit of it was 100% innocent on its own merits.  But, if I can just stumble on something like this, think of what someone that is digging can do if they are intent on causing trouble.


    • Rynski says:

      yeah, some of the social media sites can make you feel all smarmy.
      i’m not a fan at all for myspace for some reason – and one of my friends says ‘linked in’ emits a smarmy yet arrogant aura.
      i was trying to follow the above deal – so one person was ‘in a relationship’ with two different people? geesh. i would think there would be a default that kicked in that only allowed ‘in a relationship’ with one other person?
      perhaps the two people knew about it – as you mentioned, it was in public domain.
      some folks don’ t seem to realize how posting all kind of jimmalajazz could get them into trouble, either.

      • koreyk says:

        No, just two people in a nice relationship that they wished to keep under the radar to a certain segment for perfectly legitimate reasons.

        That’s still probably obtuse, but the details are beside the point in this forum.  I accidentally discovered something that wasn’t intended for me to know because I have a good memory for images, and I saw the same picture in two entirely different venues in a matter of days.

        I’m a big believer inprivacy, but the Internet makes true privacy increasingly more difficult, especially when so many are willfully, but unwittingly, participating in its demise “in network”.  (“in network” is the captcha, but it works pretty well in the context of my last point.)

  4. Stacy says:

    I’ve been a bit torn on Facebook lately.  I like that it allows me to very easily check in with people I don’t see often.  But at the same time there is so much negativity there.  People are constantly posting complaints or going off on angry tangents.  I’ve taken to hiding people’s updates so I don’t have to expose myself to that stuff.

  5. fraser007 says:

    I enjoy the internet, email and the several thousand books that I own. There  isn’t anybody that important that I need to “facebook–twitter etc.” I also do not own a cellphone. My family does so I can get ahold of them if needed. I have caller ID on the phone so that I can control who I talk to. No answering maching, so they cant leave a “message” expecting me to call back.
    My daughter has a facebook so we can comunciate with my son in Iraq. One facebook in the family is enough.

  6. fraser007 says:



  7. Kelly Arele says:

    I see how that can happen when we dont have any real, deep and meaningful connections, but most people do. I can tell by reading their friend’s comments LOL. But seriously, I have only a few meaningful relationships and I do sometimes feel jealous when seeing that my friends from highschool have way more friends than I do in real life.

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