How can one be lonely with all the communication technology in our world? Don’t we talk on telephones, text on cell phones, chat and send pictures? Aren’t we in constant contact with our neighbors and the world via television and radio? Yet in spite of all these fabulous opportunities to stay connected, many plunge into ostracizing depths of loneliness.
Emma M. Seppala, Ph. D., the Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford University, believes that social media does not enhance our abilities to experience relationships, but ruins them. Social media, she says, is a huge disconnection from our own world into the worlds of others. Instead of having our own experiences with others, we lose them in our efforts to show others the moments in which we have happiness. We put that moment in our lives on hold and disconnect from our own reality.
Instead of being out there, engaging with others, we keep ourselves in a virtual world of trying to accumulate likes, pictures, interactions, and new posts, all of which we do online, not in person. We focus on ourselves, and that can lead to anxiety and depression. Our devices become our source of pleasure when we should be creating bonds with others through being with them physically.
Dr. Seppala believes that our devices interfere with our ability to communicate. We cannot see the expressions on someone’s face and we cannot see their body language while we talk, things that give us understanding. Living in an online world robs us of the ability to touch, learn language skills, and empathize fully. It can make us self-centered and rob us of the fullness of being with others. As Allison learns in my book Finding Her Heart, we are not meant to live in isolation. Donna Wittlif