14 Mar Is social media killing human interaction (or is it good for us)?
Social media is good for you! According to Dr Love anyway…
According to Dr Paul Zak, author of ‘The Moral Molecule’, using social media increases your oxytocin levels which make you feel good, increases trust and strengthens bonds of attachment between people. So what exactly is oxytocin? Sometimes referred to as the ‘trust, ‘love’ or ’cuddle’ hormone, oxytocin is a polypeptide hormone made up of amino acids. It is more commonly known for the role it plays during childbirth and breastfeeding.
A Nielsen Social Media Report 2012 found that 76% of participants said they experienced positive feelings after engaging in social networking. Some of the words used to describe how they felt were: informed, energized, excited, connected and amused. This then is surely somewhat at odds with the increasing belief that social media is killing real human interaction?
According to research by the IAB*, British consumers spend an average of 43 hours a month online, that’s one in every 12 waking minutes. UKOM/comScore reveals that 22% of all UK internet time across computers, tablets and mobile is now spent enjoying entertainment online. Social networks and blogging account for 12% of internet time or one in every 7 minutes. Together, these activities account for over one third of Britons’ time online.
We’ve all heard the cries of despair centred around people’s dependence on technology and social media to communicate with their friends and family (usually from the older generation). Whatever happened to picking up the phone or even better, speaking to someone in person? There is an argument to say that social media facilitates ‘false’ intimacies and ‘pretend’ friendships, after all, how well can we ever really know someone that in some cases, we’ve never even met? Undoubtedly technology has allowed us to know more and more people but at the same time know less and less about them.
But surely if there was any one invention responsible for totally killing human interaction then it was the introduction of the television? According to a survey carried out on behalf of Panasonic, Brits spend nearly twice as much time watching TV as they do on social networking sites. The average Brit spends about 2.5 hours (156 minutes) watching television per day, while they spend an average of 75 minutes on Facebook and just 20 on Twitter.
At least it can be argued that social media is built around interaction with others whereas watching television is more passive and requires no input from anyone else. Unless of course you go onto a social media site after you’ve watched TV to talk about what you’ve just watched…
What is clear is that social media is here to stay and has become a daily part of life for many people. But, if as Dr Love has suggested, people get a warm fuzzy glow from their social media interactions then who are we to argue?
*Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) Digital Adspend report conducted by PwC, with UKOM-approved comScore data