The rise of digital technology impacts all countries in some way. Rise of digital technology increasing loneliness includes the advent of the internet, email. social media, automation, and personal entertainment.
The internet provides opportunities to electronically transact with people and organisations, without face-to-face interaction. With less face-to-face contact, however, there are less opportunities to form meaningful relationships – that is, relationships where you can confide in, trust, and depend on each other. With less meaningful relationships, there is greater risk of loneliness.
Email provide opportunities to electronically communicate with people and orgaionsations, without face-to-face interaction. With less face-to-face contact, however, there are less opportunities to form meaningful relationships. With less meaningful relationships, there is greater risk of loneliness.
Social media provides the opportunity to have many more ‘friends’. However, these new ‘friends’ are typically not meaningful relationships. With more time consumed by these non-meaningful relationships, there can be less time for meaningful relationships. And with less meaningful relationships, there is greater risk of loneliness. Furthermore, social media can lead to people who are lonely getting in a spiral – where, to become less lonely, they spend more time chasing ‘friends’ on social media to only become more lonely as they lose the meaningful relationships they have.
Digital technology has led to automation, in order to reduce costs. The automation saves organisational costs by reducing head count of customer facing staff. But these staff also provide opportunities to socially interact. For example, today there are less bank tellers (replaced by internet banking and ATMs). Furthermore, call centres have risen which provide customer services without face-to-face interaction.
Our sources of entertainment have multiplied with the rise of technology. Fifty years ago few households had TVs – and, for the ones that did, it was black and white. Instead of TV, people spent more time entertaining themselves as groups. Since then, digital technology has taken over, with the rise of the computer and, more recently, the smart phone. These advances have made entertainment more and more individual, which displaces group entertainment which can lead to social connection.
To explore other societal causes of loneliness, please click the coloured box of interest.