"Depressed and insecure about their value as human beings, the younger generations grow up knowing only digital imprisonment. Older users are trapped in polarized bubbles of political hate. As usual, the rich and powerful are the beneficiaries," wrote Tim Coles, associate researcher at the Organization for Propaganda Studies, for the magazine New Dawn.
The studies are clear in this regard. Constant social media use is making people feel lonelier than ever.
"Internet-related technologies are great at giving us the perception of connectedness," said Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist from Stanford University. Aboujaoude has written extensively about the intersection between psychology and tech. He said people are replacing genuine, supportive and truly close relationships for shallow and wide-reaching connections facilitated by constant social media use.
"It's not just that tech creates an illusion of connection," wrote journalist Leslie Katz for CNet News. "Endless possibilities for interactions lower our tolerance for solitude while raising expectations about the number, speed and frequency of our connections." (Related: Unliked and seenzoned: Negative experiences on social media linked to increased feelings of loneliness, reveals study.)
Katz's view on the matter is confirmed by Susan Matt and Luke Fernandez, a history professor and computing professor respectively at Weber State University. Matt and Fernandez explored the connection between tech and emotion. Their research found that people before the advent of social media had more modest expectations about the number of friendships and connections they should have in their lives.
"Loneliness and a dangerous world like the one we're in add up to a challenging combination," said Aboujaoude. "They produce a sense of vulnerability and can make people feel they lack a safety net or lifeline. If not recognized and addressed, they can also contribute to depression and other negative mood states."
Top executives in big tech companies understand that the social media platforms they and their colleagues run can cause loneliness and depression. This is why they have kept their children and other relatives from spending too much time on these dangerous platforms.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai refuses to let his middle-school-aged son to own a cellphone. Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs noted in an interview before his passing that his household was "fairly tech-free." YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and her husband, a Google executive, take their phones away from their kids when they want them to spend more time with family.
Other tech moguls raise their children in a similar way, such as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Despite recognizing the effects of social media and preventing their families from falling prey to them, these tech bosses are not doing anything to limit the effects social media has on billions of other people around the world.
Combating the influence social media use has on depression and loneliness is simple, according to Coles. All people have to do is stop using social media altogether.
"To beat the antisocial social network, we need to remember who we are and what real communication is. We need to protect the young from the all-pervasive clutches of social media and to realize that we are being sold," said Coles.
"Taking a step back can allow us to see outside and indeed prick the bubble of digital hatred in which the Deep State and corporate sectors have imprisoned us."
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