On Moore`s Law and Social Media Loneliness: Are You Unlike Us?

Written by David Michaelis

Social media loneliness. Does it equate to a real feeling of isolation when you spend most of your time interacting with people you don’t know?

aNewDomain.net — Can we translate Moore`s law into quantifying our loneliness? Recently-published research papers and follow-up media are taking on this issue of the rise of social media and it relationship to loneliness.

Though the phenomenon is too new for longevity studies to quantify, you’ll find a lot of surveys that claim Facebook, Twitter and other social nets increase loneliness big time.

Slate reports that loneliness has doubled: 40 percent of adults in two recent surveys said they were lonely. That’s up from 20 percent in the 1980s.  And a recent study at the University of Chicago suggests that the amount of time you spend on a social network is inversely related to “how happy you feel.”  That study was based on a sample of 82 students.

Moore`s law is Intel founder Gordon Moore’s 1964 observation that the amount of transistors you can fit on a chip doubles every 18 months at the same cost. That means cheaper and faster computers — and so far Moore’s Law has proved out.

Is there a Moore’s Law for social net? Do your friends double every 18 months? Does your loneliness? Does your feeling of disconnection increasingly become a law rather than just a mood?

How do you build a real relationship based on trust with, say, 440 followers at once. You can’t. Social media interaction, unless you’re a company, isn’t quantified by numbers. It’s measured in interactions that create real dialogue.

What seems obvious is this: The faster we communicate and the more remotely we do it, the less we form real relations. And that means we get lonelier.

Someone recently told me that the magic number on a social network is 150 — that’s the number of real friends you can cope with, remotely or otherwise. That’s Dunbar’s number— a suggested “cognitive limit as to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships,” according to the Wikipedia definition.

How we balance our real life and our virtual life is, in the end, a measure of our wellness. Fair weather friends are always available online.

There’s a great infographic on the web, based on Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together, that directly addresses social media and loneliness. Find it here.

Everyone doesn’t follow that party line. Here’s an excerpt from NPR quoting a listener who has experienced quite the opposite effect of social media on her loneliness quotient:

This really hasn’t been my experience at all. Almost all my closest friends and family members live very far away and everyone has different lifestyles and personal situations that may make keeping in touch difficult. I joined Facebook pretty late (I think mid-2008) after being a little lonely and sad and missing some of my far flung friends, and it was just like a breath of fresh air. I renewed old relationships (yes, in person) and got to see photos and videos of my friends’ families and children that I otherwise wouldn’t. Facebook was a savior when I lost my job, MUCH more so than LinkedIn. I posted that I had been laid off and suddenly was receiving messages from people I might not have seen since college letting me know of an opening or suggesting I meet their contact or offering to give me a recommendation. Honestly I don’t see why people think this tool is so horrible.”

How is your social brain functioning? Do you think that Moore`s law and the latest predictive algorithms apply to your loneliness or lack of it?

From the Unlike Us Reader-2013:

Social media indicates a shift from HTML-based linking practices of the open web to  liking and recommendation, which happen inside closed systems. The indirect and superficial ‘like economy’ keeps users away from a basic understanding of what the open web is all about. Information acts such as befriending, liking, recommendation, and updating social media, introduce new layers between you and others. The result is, for instance, reducing complex social relationships into a flat world.”

Image credit: Tumbler blog of Cosmicrami

Below image credit: upliftconnect.com

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at DavidMc@aNewDomain.net.