Technology has made the world more "connected" than at any other time. The web joined with all the clever devices we use to connect to it, has given us more prominent access to data, expanded open doors for collaborations through online media, and empowered us to cover our tabs, do our shopping, and play games with individuals on the opposite side of the world – all from the solace of our own homes. What an opportunity to be alive, some may state. Others, in any case, contend that a long way from uniting us, the technological revolution is in certainty leaving us more secluded and desolate. So – with the advancement of technology are our lives getting enriched or does it make us more alone?
Technology is not just associated with social media handles like Instagram or Facebook. In theoretical terms, its usage is associated with machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge. Hence giving a broader meaning to the term. An example could be the change that the human population went through when mirrors become affordable in the 19th century. A sociologist claimed that now people would think more about how they are looking in the eyes of others than they ever did before. So technological technology has always made changes in the way the human population interacts in their day to day lives. The process is continuous and unnoticeable. But could create a big impact on people’s lives.
Technology has paved the way for individuals to shed off the anxiety of showing their true selves and use the platform as a medium to express. According to the Common Sense Media report, a large number of teenagers agree that they have become more outgoing by communicating messages and ideas through social media that they otherwise could not express due to lack of confidence. This new confidence allows them to connect with people and have an open outlook to different ideas and opinions and thus, can even foster lifelong friendships from any part of the globe.
Moreover, every individual is different. Some might prefer face to face interactions which are intimate and in real-time, in contrast to introverts who may want a medium between them and the receiver to express themselves without feeling anxious. Everyone is unique in their skin so we can’t put the blame completely on technology as the cause for growing loneliness among the population.
Although technology had made us feel more connected than ever, we can’t deny that it has also lessened the real-time human interaction to the bare minimum.
Digital communication will never substitute intimate, face-to-face interaction in forming relationships – personal and professional. However, if loneliness leads people to the Internet or the internet to loneliness, it seems like many of us are turning to the internet to escape from being ourselves.
It is human nature to crave intimacy. In the words of neurobiologists, ‘we are wired for it’. However, for genuine intimacy, the requirement of vulnerability arises, and showing true selves without any facades needs courage. It expects individuals to shed down the masks that help them conform to the societal norms and pop culture and show the bare selves which can be – good, bad, and sometimes not so pretty.
Social media behaves like a protecting shield and a filter that appeals to are vulnerability and pride. It allows users to choose what they want to share and craftily frame our words and edit our pictures so the image can turn into the ideal version of how we want others to perceive ourselves. But it also gives rise to the idea of friendship that, in real life, it may be shallow, artificial, and therefore unable to satisfy the expectations and pressures of true friendships.
Social media allows people from every place and background to interact with thousands of people they never would have met otherwise. The problem is that access can give us the impression that these experiences are somehow similar to real-world contact — which is not valid. In reality, a study at Glasgow University in Scotland linked to time on social media with lower self-esteem and higher anxiety and depression levels. Individuals may have thousands of followers on Instagram at the end of the day, and yet feel friendless.
A report from Nielsen uncovers that when we factor in all media technology – TV, PCs, radio, cell phones, tablets – US grown-ups are burning through 10-and-a-half-hours each day expending media. That is 10-and-a-half hours out of each 24 zoned into a screen, not conversing with anyone, not mingling, fascinated in others' lives as opposed to living our own.
The emergence of the Loneliness Epidemic
The media appears to have concurred that rich nations are encountering a 'loneliness epidemic’. There are a great number of paper articles that utilize this definition for articulation. The word 'loneliness’ proposes that things are deteriorating and depression is expanding quickly.
Social interactions– including contact with loved ones – are significant for our wellbeing and emotional welfare, just as for our material prosperity. Loneliness is without a doubt a significant issue, however, it's essential to have a nuanced discussion dependent on realities. The headlines that claim we are witnessing a ‘loneliness epidemic’ are not objective or helpful.
Are young people more lonely than older adults?
This asks two inquiries: (i) Is it true that more youthful individuals are lonelier, and (ii) does this show loneliness is expanding?
Studies from a few rich nations, for example, New Zealand, Japan, and the US have discovered that youthful grown-ups report feeling loneliness more regularly than more established grown-ups.
In this way, truly, in rich nations, we locate that more youthful individuals are bound to report feeling desolate. While the answer to the second question remains vague because loneliness is not constant across the life cycle. One needs to study the changes in the life of an individual or the changes across generations.
Do we become lonelier as we become older?
Here are two factors impacting everything. From one perspective, there is by all accounts an immediate connection between age and dejection, whereby depression diminishes with age as our social desires adjust, and we become more specific about relating with contacts who bring positive feelings. Then again, there is by all accounts a circuitous affiliation pushing the other way, whereby depression increments with age, because our health diminishes and we lose family members and companions.
Are people lonely today or in the past?
It is frequently suggested that if we analyze two people of a similar age – one today and another a decade back – we would find that the one today is bound to feel desolate. This depends on the possibility that there have been cultural changes –, for example, the ascent of living alone – that cause more current ages bound to feel lonely.
A study by Louise Hawkley stated that There was almost no distinction in self-detailed loneliness of individuals born of various ages. Those that were born in 1920-1947 encountered similar changes of dejection for the duration of their lives as those born in 1948-1965. It's not the situation that depression is expanding across ages.
There is an epidemic of reports suggesting that we are facing an "epidemic of loneliness," but there is no empirical evidence for the idea that loneliness is growing, let alone epidemic.
The Hikikomori – extreme case of isolation
When one gets stuck in the web of loneliness and depression, they isolate themselves to protect themselves from breaking down and show their weaknesses and vulnerabilities to the outside world. So, isolation is an extension of loneliness and despair. One such phenomenon of extreme isolation is observed in the land of the rising sun – Japan. It is quite ironic when a large number of people are succumbing to the darkness of despair and desolation.
The Japanese phenomena which growing common these days referred to as Hikikomori. The term hikikomori, frequently utilized conversely for the condition and its victims, was coined by Japanese analyst Tamaki Saitō in his 1998 book Social Withdrawal – Adolescence Without End. Today the most widely recognized standards are a blend of physical segregation, social shirking, and mental distress that keeps going on for 6 months or more.
A questionable yet basic topic in hikikomori research is the disconnecting impact of present-day technology. Any potential connections are a long way from settled, yet there's anxiety Japan's lost age could be a canary in the coal mineshaft for our undeniably separated social orders. Simultaneously there's an expectation technology could help bring individuals over from the edge.
Role of Modern Technology
Even though the association between present-day communication technologies, for example, the Web, social-based media, and computer games, and the phenomenon isn't indisputably established, it is considered at any rate a compounding factor that can extend and sustain withdrawal. Previous investigations of hikikomori in South Korea and Spain found that some of them gave indications of Internet addiction, however, scientists don't believe this to be the fundamental issue. However, as per associate professor at Kyushu College in Fukuoka, Takahiro Kato, video games and social media have decreased the measure of time that individuals spent outside and in social situations that require direct up close and personal interaction. The rise of cell phones and afterward smartphones may likewise have developed the issue, given that individuals can proceed with their dependence on gaming and online surfing anyplace, even in bed.
Does technology make us all the more alone? One thing's for sure – the effect of technology on public activity is noteworthy, and it likely could be a contributing component to the loneliness epidemic. Yet, here's another certainty– we can't eliminate technology from the equation. It’s too ingrained into our day to day lives, our organizations, our infrastructure, our society public. Thus, if the technology is the cause behind our loneliness, at that point it is down to us to do something about it.
As an individual, we should put forth sure that we attempt to continue face to face social connections with our friends, and not depend entirely on computerized, text-based correspondences across advanced media, which are regularly shallow and give a misguided feeling of being social. It is in our own hands to fight our demon and have the courage to step out in the world and be comfortable in our skin.