Unsocial Media

Smartphones and social media will cure the epidemic of widespread loneliness. Or so we thought. We would all be connected, all together, all the time, and none of us would ever feel alone. But the harsh truth is we could always be lonely, even lonely in a crowd, and now lonely in a digital crowd. We send texts and pictures and videos and tweets and Facebook updates and we refresh and wait ... often to a blank screen. No responses, or very few. But at some point, when we hit refresh and stare at a screen with no new updates, it can feel like no one is on the other side of the line. We feel loneliness in the middle of online connectedness.

In reality, "it's a lonely business, wandering the labyrinths of our friends' and pseudo-friends' projected identities, trying to figure out what part of ourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear" (Marche, "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?").

But it's a chicken-and-egg question. Does Facebook attract the lonely, or does Facebook make us lonely? That is a debate I cannot solve. What is clear is that we have given up thinking that Facebook will end our loneliness.

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