Social Media Won't Help Chase Feelings Of Loneliness


Social Media logos: image via softsailor.comSocial Media logos: image via Studies conducted by University of Arizona (UA) suggest that it doesn't matter how many 'friends' you have on Facebook or Twitter... If you are lonely, they aren't going to make you feel less so.

Two studies, headed by Chris Segrin, chair of UA's Department of Communications, looked at individual perceptions of stress and social support to understand to understand loneliness and its effects on health.  Stress and social support definitely go hand-in-hand because the less social support you have, the more you feel stress.  And having to deal with stress when you're alone is especially stressful.

In its study of 265 adults, aged 19 to 85, the UA team found that people who identified themselves as lonely were less likely to have close connections, less likely to manage their daily stressors, and less likely to take care of themselves, healthwise. Age was not a factor, and that should alert parents. 

Neither having a 'significant other' or hoarding friends from social media sites seemed to effect ones feelings of loneliness.  It was only relationships that the individuals found 'significant' in their lives at the time of their stress that made the difference in how they handled that stress and how lonely they felt.  However, digital communications with those who are significant do enhance their feelings of support.

"It is no wonder, then, that certain people with large social networks also express feelings of loneliness. When it comes to relationships, quality, not quantity, is the decisive factor," PhD graduate and co-author of the studies, Stacey Passalacqua said.

"There are so many people we have in our day-to-day interactions. But the absence of close family members and close friends is something that should be taken seriously. Sometimes we don't realize how important these close relationships are to our health."

The complete study was published in the June issue of Health Communication.

In the second study,  Segrin and co-author PhD candidate Tricia Domschke found that lonely people did not enjoy leisure activities or get recharged from sleep as much as those who did not perceive themselves as lonely.  This study will be published in an upcoming issue of Health Communication.

Both studies concluded that all people need to take care of themselves and nurture their close relationships. 

Maybe we should all sign out and find those people.

Health Communication, Medical News Today