Good Essay About Does Technology Make US More Alone?
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Internet use has soared over recent years. As users depend more and more on Internet to do different, daily functions, use patterns continue to emerge. Admittedly, Internet use has not only been an integral part of daily life but also an adopted habit users perform increasingly more unconsciously. Typical scenes of workers or students locked up in a room communicating with someone at another (unseen) end. Indeed, use patterns continue to show propensities of increasing loneliness and isolation as periods spent online increase. First recognized as an effective, instant communication toll, Internet – and later more increasingly social networks – has, paradoxically, been criticized as an addiction and isolation platform. Probably, one most notable category which has been studied for Internet use is college students. This papers aims, hence, to argue for Internet as a platform for social isolation and loneliness.
Interestingly, "going online" has apparently stopped to be a regular act done routinely but a status by which users enjoy an experience of surfing and browsing for content of interest. Practiced alone, going online further distances users from surroundings and, not least, from humans who happen to be around. Thus, greater Internet use leads to less communication and more isolation, loneliness and depression, an observation which is confirmed by research (Kraut et al.). A heavy Internet – and now increasingly social network – user would, accordingly, be consumed in her Internet user behavior and be alienated from her surroundings, finding more relationship fulfillment online.
Congruent to loneliness patterns attached to Internet use, lonely students are inclined to go online more extensively – compared to less lonely students – as, again, patterns of interaction and communication online appear to fulfill a deep need for discretion, loneliness and isolation (Morahan-Martina and Schumacherb). In fact, Internet usage by more lonely students does not only enhance loneliness but, on a more positive, if any, lonely Internet use enables such group of students to control communication behavior and patterns.
As noted, one most researched group of Internet users are college students. A plethora of research does, in fact, discuss effect of extensive Internet use on college students. In an online survey, for example, whereas a group of college students is examined for satisfaction in communication with parents using phones another group is examined for satisfaction using electronic communication. Predictably, whereas phone communicators are shown to enjoy more satisfying, intimate, and supportive parental relationships, electronic communicators exhibit higher levels of loneliness, anxious attachment, as well as conflict in parental relationships (Gentzler et al.).
Moreover, increased Internet use is not only restricted to effects of loneliness and isolation. In fact, higher levels of Internet use are shown to be associated with higher levels of emotional loneliness. Thus, increased Internet use contributes to decreased social well-being and hence risk of ostracization (Moody).
Paradoxically, Internet is a communication platform which leads to further loneliness and isolation. By investing more in virtual experiences, Internet users are engaged in a form of a suspension of disbelief, so to speak, of normal social patterns of communication and interaction. Thus, a familiar pattern of social isolation emerges by which increased Internet use leads to more social distancing and hence more alienation and, in turn, in what appears to be a vicious circle, more immersion in virtual, online experiences which becomes, paradoxically, more fulfilling. Further, by using Internet extensively, users are subject to habit internalization, an act which renders retraction harder.
Internet use remains an area of unlimited usability potential. By continuing to use Internet – extensively or not – practices emerge. Indeed, practices and usage patterns will not stop to emerge given Internet's very nature which is continuously dynamic and changing. Similar to complex system behavior, Internet implies contradictory patterns which render use and interaction both an asset and a liability. Unsurprisingly, calls for Internet reform and regulations are doomed to fail. If anything, extreme practices will be shed as more rationalized usage forms emerge and continue to be shared by broader community.
In conclusion, Internet use is shown to increase loneliness and social isolation. One most examined group of users is college students. An increasing body of research shows heavy Internet use does not only lead to further social isolation and feelings of loneliness and depression but also enhances loneliness of already more lonely users who resort to Internet as a fulfilling platform in lieu of face-to-face social interactions. Initially received as an effective, immediate platform of communication, Internet – upon further usage and practice – continues to show paradoxical, unpredictable patterns. After all, however extreme or intense in how loneliness is developed among heavy users, diverse practices will continue to rationalize extreme behaviors and practices as more accepted ones are used more by broader community. Finally, since not only Internet use evolves by practice but, indeed, Internet conception as a platform of communication will evolve as well, what comes as a criticism at one point of Internet history might be lauded at another as underlying patterns are uncovered.
Gentzler, L. Amy, Ann M. Oberhauser, David Westerman, and Danielle K. Nadorff. " College Students' Use of Electronic Communication with Parents: Links to Loneliness, Attachment, and Relationship Quality." Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 14.1-2 (2011): 71-74. Mary Ann Liebert. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.
This paper shows frequent communication with parents over phone reflects a more healthy parental relationship. Communicating with parents using social networks reportedly is conducive to loneliness, anxiety and conflict.
Kraut, Robert, Michael Patterson, Vicki Lundmark, Sara Kiesler, and Mukophadhyay. "Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being?" American Psychologist 53.9 (1998): 1017-1031. APA PsycNET. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.
This paper shows increased use of Internet during first 2-year usage leads to decreased family participation, depression and loneliness.
Moody, J. Eric. "Internet Use and Its Relationship to Loneliness." CyberPsychology & Behavior 4.3 (2001): 393-401. Mary Ann Liebert. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.
This article shows Internet use and loneliness are associated in an inverse relationship: higher Internet usage levels are concomitant with lower social and emotional loneliness and vice versa. Although a means of communication, Internet can reduce social health.
Morahan-Martin, Janet, and Phyllis Schumacherb. " Loneliness and social uses of the Internet." Computers in Human Behavior 19.6 (2003): 659–671. ScienceDirect. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.
This article shows more lonely persons are more comfortable using Internet communication platforms such as e-mails and are reportedly disturbed in daily functioning.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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