Throughout world history, sociologists have been studying society’s complex and dynamic relationships with its surrounding environments. The sociological analysis of society’s many relationships is primarily concerned with the circumstantial nature of society’s affiliation with a particular environment, the power of influence each has on the other, and the depth in which they are linked. Research on this particular subject is essentially infinite due to the constant growth of society, both in size and prosperity, the persistent evolution of its existing relationships, and the frequency in which it engages in relationships with emerging environments.
Today, one of the most prevalent topics of discussion among experts in the humanities and social science field is the ever changing connection between technology and society. The development and introduction of technology instantly sparked interest from society, later transforming into an infatuation. Over time, society established an intricate dependency on, as well as a demand for, technology generated by its perceived endless functions, benefits, and versatility. Several shifts in social and cultural trends are visible throughout recent history, but the question remains: Is society adapting to technology, or is technology adapting to society?
Scholars are determined to define, outline, and explain the correlation between society and technology to reveal the degrees of influence and reciprocity transmitted between them. Additionally, scholars wish to identify if dominance is inherent in the relationship and if so, indicate whether it lies within society or technology. A reductionist theory, conceivably founded by sociologist Thorstein Velben (1857-1929), is widely accepted and supported as the primary view of society’s relationship with technology.
Velben’s theory, the Theory of Technological Determinism, describes technology as a force that shapes society by constantly influencing its culture and modifying its social structure. In the context of today’s bond with technology, this theory is most often used to explore media technology’s relationship with society, focusing on the effects of increasing volume, velocity and variety of information sharing. Much of today’s conversation revolves around social media, Facebook in particular, and its perceived influences on society.
Among arguments such as “is technology making us stupid?,” “are video games making us violent?,” and “does television make us have ADD?,” resides the question “is Facebook making us lonely?” as well. Each of these questions accuses technology of negatively influencing “us” and seeks to identify its specific characteristics that cause our symptoms.
An article posted in The Atlantic, an online magazine, titled “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” uses the death of the famous Hollywood actress Yvette Vickers as a primary example of how social media, specifically Facebook, makes us “lonely.” Author Stephen Marche also defines loneliness, outlines the health risks associated with loneliness, discusses the evolution of loneliness in American society, and investigates Facebook’s influences on loneliness within American society. In his analysis of Facebook’s influence on loneliness, Marche uses several studies to support his claim that Facebook does in fact have an influence on loneliness.
Preliminary findings of the recent studies on Facebook and loneliness, discussed in detail in the article, show that Facebook causes an increase in different genres of loneliness and a decrease in others. The ways in which individuals use social media, and engage in interaction via social media also influences the resulting change in loneliness. So the question still stands, “is Facebook making us lonely?”
If the way we opt to use Facebook causes an increase in feelings of loneliness, who is responsible? Is Facebook responsible because it facilitates the social media practices and activities we are engaging in? Or are we at fault for our own feelings of loneliness because we use/behave on Facebook in a particular way despite the ample opportunities to use/ behave differently?
Marche, S. (2012, April 02). Is facebook making us lonely. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/