On the brink of loneliness

A modern illusion.


Arthur Quayle

2 years ago | 2 min read

We’re all familiar with the idea that human beings are naturally social creatures, a trait visible in our nearest biological ancestors; apes.

Provided of course you subscribe to the theory of evolution, which I just so happen to do. We tend to congregate in groups, form social units and social networks in order to satisfy our need for interaction.

When this need is not fulfilled it can have disastrous consequences for individuals, with isolation and loneliness being a major catalyst for depression.

However, in today’s modern, globalised world, isolation may appear to be a thing of the past; we have access to millions or even billions of people at the touch of a button thanks to worldwide internet and smartphones.

In reality however, social media and social interaction through things such as smartphones can be, in fact, detrimental to humanity’s need for social interaction and can actually contribute to feelings of isolation and thus, depression in individuals.

Interaction on social media provides just enough social interaction as to fend off feelings of loneliness and isolation.

After all, how can one be lonely with hundreds or even thousands of friends on Facebook, or followers on Instagram and Twitter? In addition to this, the presence of individuals on our feeds and timelines can be misinterpreted and the presence of these individuals in our social lives.

This “illusion” of social interaction through social media ends up having real world world implications on our lives.

For starters it negates the need for real human interaction that would serve to satisfy our needs.

A constant stream of texts serves to transfer information in the same way as a conversation but in a distorted fashion that removes so many of the elements of human interaction that me it so satisfying; the flow of conversation, expression and emotion, and even the raw presence of the individual or individuals.

Social media and messaging removes all of these elements of human interaction, stripping it down to its base form of information transfer, creating the illusion of true human social interaction without the real satisfaction it brings.

Following on from this, constant interaction through social media can stunt natural conversation during real interaction.

After all, if you are constantly talking to someone via messaging, what is left to say that has not been said, or could not be said via message? Messaging provides a rough replication of a conversation but one that is by no means close to reality.

I certainly haven’t had, or observed, a conversation in which parties reply to one another once every half an hour or so.

And so, what we are left with is a modern illusion of social interaction through social media.

However, interaction in this form lacks the real satisfaction that traditional social interaction provides, it lacks the humanity behind social interaction. Inevitably this leaves people wanting, unfulfilled and on the brink of isolation, on the brink of loneliness.


While this article may seem like an exposé bashing social media, this article is not the be-all and end-all of social media in modern life.

For some people social media can provide vital interaction, or just the level of social interaction that they are comfortable with. This article is simply intended as some food for thought.

Originally published on medium


Created by

Arthur Quayle







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