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Facebook Can Bring More Loneliness to Our Lives

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Technology has advanced a lot and has been greatly impacting our lives since the Industrial Revolution. The appearance of the mobile phone, the computer, and the tablets have all changed our ability to communicate with people around the world. Although technologies have greatly improved our lifestyle, they have brought many negative effects on our relationships and happiness as well, for instance distorting people’s views on one another and bringing more loneliness to people’s lives. Many people believe that benefited by social media platforms such as Facebook, it is now not necessary to talk to someone in person in order to effectively communicate with one and know one’s life.

Others, however, believe that technology alone cannot replace real life relationships and thus cannot make us happy. After a thorough analysis of Sherry Turkle’s digital magazine-style essay, academic research paper by Hui-Tze Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge, academic article by Sophie Reynolds, and digital magazine-style article by Adam Piore, I argue that even though social media platform Facebook has greatly changed the way people communicate with one another, face-to-face conversations and relationships with people are still crucial to our lives and sense of happiness. It is also when we find the balance between technology and relationships can we enhance our happiness level and relationship with people.

The psychologist and professor at M.I.T, Sherry Turkle in her digital magazine-style article, “The Flight From Conversation,” criticizes that technology such as Facebook seemingly make us feel accompanied by many friends and feel rich in connections, it eventually damages our relationships and happiness. She effectively supports her claim by first beginning her article with a paradox, “We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection” (Turkle 1).

Turkle is very outspoken at the beginning of her article and her purpose is to criticize that people have focused too much on connecting through cell phones that they miss out about conversation. Turkle’s use of diction is also very strong; she uses the words “sacrifice” and “mere” to each describe conversation and connection which tells us that Turkle is quite upset that the society is taken over by technology. Then Turkle goes on to establish her credibility by claiming that, “Over the past 15 years, I’ve studied technologies of mobile connection and talked to hundreds of people of all ages and circumstances about their plugged-in lives” (Turkle 1). In here Turkle shapes herself into an experienced and knowledgeable figure by saying that she has been studying technology and human relationships for a long time in order for people to think that she is reliable and better believe in her argument. Turkle further supports her argument by presenting examples from her research.

She says, “A businessman laments that he no longer has colleagues at work. He doesn’t stop by to talk; he doesn’t call. He says that he doesn’t want to interrupt them. He says they’re “too busy on their email” (Turkle 2), and “Not too long ago, people walked with their heads up, looking at the water, the sky, the sand and at one another, talking. Now they often walk with their heads down, typing” (Turkle 4). Turkle chooses examples that people can feel more related to and effectively uses her research experiences as an rhetorical strategy to make connection with people and warn people that the lack of interactions with one another is a serious issue and technology has changed our relationships in a negative way. She adopts an informative and serious tone for people who use technology on a daily basis to know that it is time to get rid of the illusion of companionship provided by online connections and start to engage in more face-to-face conversations.

In fact, when people spend more time on technology like Facebook, their opinions on others will easier be distorted because of the filtered information posted by other people. The two professors and researchers, Hui-Tze Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge in their academic research article, “They Are Happier and Having Better Lives than I Am,” propose that people manage their impressions by only showing the filtered portions of their lives, making a false appearance that they are always doing well.

Chou and Edge develop their claim by first making theoretical arguments and hypotheses. They argue, “One possible way to manage the vast size of online social networks is to employ an availability heuristic; that is, individuals can base judgment on examples that they can easily recall” and “One common attribution error is the correspondence bias; that is, the tendency to assume that others’ actions and words reflect their personality or stable personal disposition, rather that being affected by situation factors” (Chou and Edge 117). Chou and Edge’s purpose is to explain to readers that this is a professional research paper which they follow the instructions of a scientific research, with clear hypotheses before data collection.

Then, Chou and Edge provide a series of data collection and data analysis to prove their hypotheses: “the results show that those who spent more hours on Facebook each week (b = 0.11, p < 0.10) and those who included more people who they did not personally know as their Facebook friends (b = 0.16, p < 0.01) agreed more that others had better lives than themselves” (Chou and Edge 119). Chou and Edge adopt a professional and informative tone here. And their purpose is to show people about the correlation between Facebook and levels of happiness, and to convey the message that social media platform can distort people’s views on others. Finally, Chou and Edge establish their credibility at the end of their paper: “No competing financial interests exist” (Chou and Edge 119). Their purpose is to show people that their research is completely factual and unbiased, with no outside source.

After analyzing Turkle, and Chou and Edge’s article, it is clear that social media platform Facebook can damage our relationship and happiness and can distort our views on others. However, even worse, social media can cause more loneliness. Our fellow UCSD student, Sophie Reynolds in her academic article, “100 Followers But 0 Friends,” suggests that even though the more she amplifies her social media presence, the more lonely and isolated she is. She says, “By glancing at my social media, one might have assumed that I was having an amazing social experience. But, inevitably, I found myself eating meals alone, walking to and from class alone, and sitting in the library or campus coffee shop alone” (Reynolds 1).

Reynolds uses her personal experience at our school UCSD as an strategy to prove her point, and her purpose is clear: to make us college students feel related to her experience and to inform us that social media also brings negative effect. She also says, “In an attempt to mask my loneliness, I amplified my social media presence. However, constructing a Facebook facade did little to help my feelings of isolation” (Reynolds 2). Reynolds adopts a conversational tone for us college students to understand that social media like Facebook can bring more loneliness to our lives, and it is time for us to stop using Facebook, go out and have face-to-face conversations with friends. Just like Reynolds concludes, “Once I stopped comparing my situation in college to the situations portrayed through my friends Instagrams, I found solace” (Reynolds 2).

Facebook indeed has many negative effects. However, as far as I am concerned, the above authors fail to mention the positive effects Facebook has on our lives. Facebook is also very useful. It enables us to keep in touch with friends and family all around the world. A modern journalist, Adam Piore in his article, “What Technology Can’t Change About Happiness,” also argues that “The overall effect of technology is to overcome the constraints of time and location that would have proven insurmountable before” (Piore 9).

Piore’s purpose here is to tell people that technology can be a good thing as well. I also believe the same: with the video call function, we are able to see each other’s face and talk with ease. If some people are not familiar with video call, they can even voice message others, making communication easier while reducing the hassle of typing. No doubt, Facebook has greatly changed our lives with both positive and negative effects. And I also believe that it is when we find the balance between technology and relationships can we enhance our happiness level and relationship with people. That is, we need to go out and have face-to-face conversations with people while using technology to help us keep connection with people.

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