Research has shown that there is an increase in loneliness in the 21st century. This systemic problem is the socio-psychological effect of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation which has shaped hyper-competitive individuals. However, human beings, as most mammals, are social beings. We are evolutionarily ingrained to live socially while our society, in the past two centuries, has developed in a way that forces us to live individually.
This is why, I think, any study regarding social media and loneliness need to place it within broader social changes in post-Fordist societies. It is less about social media’s effect in individualising human behaviour, than it is about social media exacerbating an already economically-driven social disconnect between neighbours, co-workers, and family members. It is a fact that must be accepted as our social reality before any serious try to find an antidote. Perhaps, it can only come in the form of a simple “hello” to the stranger next to us on the train.