Why Social media usage increases loneliness

In the late 90s, I met an old friend after an year’s gap in New York. We were excited and talked for many hours to catch up on all things.

Then we met again after a week, but spoke a few minutes only.

I saw him again near my office the second week but just said hi.

Why ?

To understand the reason behind the above statement of social media causing loneliness, we need to understand the concept of signals.

Human beings have unwritten rules on the quota of signals we keep for others. When we meet somebody after a long time, we give part of that quota of signal to the other person by speaking, nodding, smiling. Once the quota is  mostly used, our signalling goes down.

The same person now lives in another country now. We barely ever speak now. He prefers to be contacted via social media like whatsapp, instead of speaking on phone.

Even today, a phone remains the king of best communication  as we can feel the expressions, emotions, laughter or anger instantly and can connect at a deeper level.

Social media like whatsapp and facebook drain a major part of our quota for social signalling but with  low-inter-personal emotions.

We are transferring information to/from others and exhausting our quota of social signalling, however we are not getting the inter personal relation building and relation enhancing data; thus resulting in loneliness.


Sanjeev Sharma

Consultant and Author of '5 Core Methods of Innovation'

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