Opinion: Does Technology Make Us Feel More Alone?

Niki Dashtban, Reporter

Have you ever been in a room full of friends who are sitting across from each other and scrolling through their phones in utter and complete silence? Most of us have because it is just what happens every single time we invite our friends over.

Technology is supposed to make us feel connected. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and Snapchat were all created to connect people from afar, but could it be that they are preventing real socializing?

Smartphones were developed for one purpose: to connect friends and family. They were created to tether people who live across the world by making long-distance communication possible, so when did this all change? People have replaced genuine socializing with social media and texting. People no longer feel the need to speak to the person in front of them—why should they when they could send a quick text instead?

The fact that teens say that using social media is “socializing” is false. Scrolling through Instagram and sending streaks on Snapchat is not socializing. It is simply a method to get rid of boredom, and it only succeeds in making people feel more alone and upset. As ordinary people gaze upon their phones and see how much “fun” others are having with their friends, or how beautiful celebrities are, it lowers their self-esteem and confidence in themselves. Experts from CNN research team say that an average teen checks their social media 100 times per day and spend an average of 9 hours on their phones. This means that teenagers are spending a considerable amount of time on something that is lowering their self-esteem and causing anxiety. A study at the University of Glasgow in Scotland linked time on social media with lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression. At the end of the day, someone can have thousands of Instagram followers and still feel lonely.

When teens are spending most of their time on their phones instead of speaking to each other—when they are across from each other, scrolling through social media without speaking to each other, it shows the loneliness and isolation that technology brings us. When you have free time, your first and immediate thought is to reach for your phone and check everything that you might have missed in the past few hours instead of spending time with your friends and family to just talk and live in the moment.

We all take pictures to capture moments to make them last forever, but in doing so, we do not notice the small things that make moments enjoyable—no, instead we are too busy trying to take the perfect photo for our Instagram feed.

With Instagram and other social networking sites, we are simply just trying to convince others that our lives are perfect and worth following. No matter how many people we talk to online, the facade we have created makes all communication feel pointless and superficial.

Sure, technology is convenient. You can use it to listen to music, to call your relatives who live halfway across the world, to reach out for help. The things technology provides us is limitless, but there is more to technology than that. Technology can be corrupting. It can be addictive. It can take away anyone’s ability to see what is in front of them.

Technology can make us feel alone.

Some students in Urbana agree too. “We communicate through the screens rather than in person, so each notification gives us false validation.” one student said. Another student agreed that technology spurs loneliness, “It discourages social face to face interaction between people.”

Modern technology seems like it leads to more social interactions. Social media networks promise to connect us with others, but they are just encouraging shallow relationships. It is obvious that these sort of relationships are isolating us from others in the real world.

I cannot deny that smartphones are convenient. I am not saying that we should completely obliterate technology, but maybe do something about this problem. Try to limit the amount of time you are using your phone. You can use screen time apps to do this, or you can simply set a fixed amount of time when you can use your phone. Technology has become a major issue in our society and does, in fact, make us feel more alone. The next time you are spending time with your friends and family, put your phone on airplane mode, tuck it away, and spend some time genuinely interacting with them.