• Mass-Murderers in the Age of Social Media: 25,000 Followers but No Friends

    Surge Summary: Social Media can’t take the place of actual, human interaction, and when it is lacking it could go a long way toward explaining some of society’s worst trends and biggest problems. 

    by Nathan Clark

    Millennials are rapidly becoming victims of their own contemporary technology when it comes to healthy human interaction.  Social media has become a convenient surrogate for actual human contact and interaction.  Yet, it is no replacement or even facilitator of what we really crave.

    Humans are highly social beings, and a huge yet vastly underappreciated component of our socializing is person-to-person contact.  There’s something about looking another person in the face as we communicate, picking up all the various nuances that communicate so much more than truncated keyboard expressions or emojis ever could.  When we look into the other person’s eyes, we are reminded of their humanity – and our own.  This is a crucial anchor in helping us maintain a healthy mind and soul.  It is also a bulwark making us less likely to devalue other people or dehumanize them into some ‘category’.

    Mutual respect has made its way onto the Endangered Species list these days, and the isolation and loneliness exacerbated by the rise of social media makes it even easier to see other people as objects with limited value, rather than real people who may think, act or look differently than we do.  I believe that lack of actual human intercourse blurs the lines of distinction in our minds, so we stop seeing others who are different as ‘people’ like us….and this is a dangerous boundary to cross.  From political mudslinging to mass shootings, we are seeing an increasing trend in the dehumanization of any who disagree or differ in their viewpoint.

    We are also observing a spike in suicides.  When humans feel isolated and unvalued, they instinctively become depressed and distraught.  We are wired for interdependence and cooperation, and the absence of these leaves us emotionally and socially marooned and hopeless.  No illuminated screen or keyboard can replace a friend’s warm touch, a hug of compassion or a shared tear or smile when another joins us in our circumstances.  These are incredibly powerful tools for coping that technology cannot replicate.

    New York Daily News columnist Tim Balk wrote today that “More than 20% of millennials surveyed in a YouGov poll released this week claimed that they don’t have a single friend. And less than a third of Millennials said they have double-digit friends, according to the data, culled online in early July.”  This is staggering, in an age when every American over the age of 4 has a Smart phone.  And 25,000 ‘followers’ on Instagram and Facebook.

    Balk continues in his article that “Studies have indicated that loneliness has myriad negative mental and physical health effects.

    Strong social relationships support mental health, and that ties into better immune function, reduced stress and less cardiovascular activation,’ Debra Umberson, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas, told Time magazine in 2015.”

    One of the characteristics that is glaringly persistent in the profiles of these young mass shooters is isolation.  This absence of actual meaningful person-to-person relationships clearly suggests that healthy parts of the mental and social mind, which govern conduct and values, are underdeveloped or missing altogether.  This may be the most significant contributor to their heinous decisions to indiscriminately take other lives without remorse.

    Balk’s article continues; “Despite the ‘social’ in social media, a 2018 study out of the University of Pennsylvania linked usage of apps like Facebook and Instagram to social isolation. ‘Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness,’ the study’s author, psychologist Melissa Hunt, said at the time.”

    Depression and loneliness are the two primary forces behind suicide today, especially among young people.  If we will put the Smart phone down and get back to sitting across the table from each other and seeing a ‘person’ like us sitting on the other side, and not a political ideology, ethnicity or other ‘fill-in-the-blank’ category, it’s certain we will see some of these most alarming societal trends begin to reverse themselves.  Everybody wins.

    The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge. 

    Nathan Clark is a conservative commentator who resides with his wife in New Hampshire. He is passionate about preserving the vision of our nation’s Founders and advancing those tried and true principles deep into America’s future. His interests range broadly from flyfishing, cooking and shooting to pro sports, gardening, live music and fine-scale modeling.

    Image: Adapted from: https://pixabay.com/photos/personal-woman-self-talk-mirror-2923048/

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