A balancing Act


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Have you been told that technology can solve all your communication problems and bring us all closer together, so that increasing loneliness for us of the older generation is less likely?

Well, that may just be a lot of hooey, because some recent figures from Australia seems to show that it is the young people who feel the loneliest. Some 42% who used the now common Facebook, Twitter, Emails and Text messaging claimed to be lonely whilst only 11% who used just one of these felt lonely.

The age group most likely to feel lonely [with 27%] were those aged 25-34, but among the over 70s only 11%.  Maybe if you are an addict to Facebook and Twitter you have little time for anything else so may have become physically lonely in spite of talking to friends and acquaintances over the net?

The story does not answer the question of whether the people who use the social media were lonely before starting to get hooked, or became so as a result of using social media,  replacing physical relationships with the interaction via the net.

It is also a fact that we as humans will always have the occasional feelings of loneliness, that is natural,  but there is a big difference between loneliness versus being alone. Real Loneliness is a distressing mental state where a person feels estranged from, or rejected by, peers and is starved for the emotional intimacy found in relationships and mutual activity.

There is also an interaction between loneliness and health, it has to do with hormones, for those who are socially isolated their immune systems seem to be weakened, often with increased levels of Cortisol which is a stress hormone, whereas those with social connectedness increase Oxytocin, an anti-inflammatory hormone that also has a feel good factor.

From that it appears that maintaining physical connectedness with family and friends serves us best when that is possible, and at the same time a balanced approach to the use of technology for keeping in touch  with those away and for communication, information and entertainment can serve us very well, but alone cannot replace social connectedness.

Shannon and Weaver Model of Communication

Image via Wikipedia

SeniorNet also mixes the two, face-to-face and the use of technology, for the right balance to make the most of our global existence, maintaining the personal contact and teaching the use of the valuable methods  of communicating and so widening our chance of greater enjoyment in life.

It is a balancing act, but not a difficult one for most people, we all like the best of both worlds, and in truth we can have that with a sound knowledge of how to use the newer social media sensibly and at the same time maintaining our relationships.

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