Social Media vs. Social Interaction
In 2018, research revealed social media is most effective in tackling loneliness when it is used to enhance existing relationships, or forge new meaningful connections. On the other hand, it is counterproductive if used as a substitute for real-life social interaction.
We posed the question to our dedicated research community; in what ways do you think social media is good at keeping you connected? And when does it become detrimental to your real-life interactions and in turn likely to make you feel more isolated?
Respondents argued there is simply no true substitute for in-person interactions. With some going a step further to say that social media can make you believe you have more meaningful relationships than in reality.
"Nothing is better than a catch up with friends over lunch or a cup of tea.”
"It is a good way of organising events but is detrimental because it makes you think you have more good friends than you actually have! This increases your isolation when you realise that these friends are in name only and are not true "physical" friends!”
The majority agreed the main benefit of social media is to keep connected and enhance our existing relationships with family and friends.
"Social media is a great way to communicate with people around the world, get their opinions and views on different topics. It helps to maintain your personal relationships, even with people who are far away from you.”
"Social media is good to keep me connected to my family and friends all over the world. I get to see what they are up to and the other way around without missing important events like birthdays, christenings, weddings. Without social media I would not see it and would feel like I miss out.”
A pandemic lifeline
The coronavirus pandemic has had a marked effect on responses with most pointing out how social media has played an essential role in helping them maintain the connection with friends and families during the pandemic.
"Social media is good in a way, it can help us keep connected with our family and friends, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since I am an immigrant myself, it has been playing a great role in my life so I can keep in touch with my friends in my home country.”
"Social media has its place when used properly. It has helped us keep in contact with family and friends during covid restrictions and therefore kept us sane.”
Everything in moderation
Overall everyone agreed it was all about moderation, social media is a great tool to enhance our lives but when used as a substitute for real life interaction, that’s when isolation or disappointment occurs.
"I much prefer personal interaction and know it keeps me mentally more healthy. Social media can be isolating for many people - it is for me. I do however, have family and friends overseas and interstate and it has proved to be handy to use during Covid-19 when travel and personal interaction became less possible. Each way has benefits like contact in times of isolation - and downsides like bullying, stalking and living in a fantasy world of 'unreal friends' you don't truly know, just imagine you do.