Hannah Fersch Ms. Wood English 102 (DE)-44 February 2016The Paradoxical World of Social Media There are approximately 7.4 billion people in the world, most of which are connected by the internet in some way or another. In today’s society, the internet has become extremely widespread and is present in the lives of many. Popular social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, etc. are the most common sites of visitation on the web inter-connecting humans from all over the world. This vast power of communication can seem to be the solution to all social problems. In some ways the internet can be useful, but can too much social media make us lonely? Though connected with millions of people across the globe, do these “friends” fulfill the necessary demands for emotional bonds and overall well-being? Through the use of social media, people are becoming accustomed to the simplistic lifestyle technology offers to society and ignoring the necessary requirements which fulfill human demands. Although social media can pose a negative effect on others, some may argue that social media can positively influence people, meeting the necessary social skills needed for healthy living. Author Karen-Marie Yust of, “Digital power: exploring the effects of social media on children’s spirituality,” demonstrates the importance of self-expression among people and how it can be obtained through the use of social networks. She states, “The internet can be understood socially as ‘third place’ where ‘idiomatic, spontaneous, colorful, and free willing conversation, steeped in stories and emotional expression’ takes place” (Yust 134). The internet not only provides valuable resources, but can also be sanction of comfort for those to practice self-expression, according to Yust. Although the internet can offer countless opportunities to communicate with people around the world, it cannot provide the necessary verbal interaction needed for relationships and strong emotional bonds to form. Therefore, the internet can have great qualities which can make society flourish in some ways, but it cannot replace the human heart and its qualities which differentiate humans from computers. In life, people often become consumed in the hustle and bustle of society. People become so consumed that some need to find some form of escape to decompress and distract their overworked minds from the bee hive of a mess we call life. Others, however, simply enjoy the constant task of staying connected online. Although fun or therapeutic, the internet offers a whole new world of a virtual fantasy. It all seems harmless, but most people find themselves becoming addicted, and going a day without connecting to the internet can seem like a drag. An addiction is a strong and harmful need to regularly have something. Society generalizes substances like alcohol, drugs, etc. as harmful, addictive behavior, but what society does not see is that social media can be just as harmful. The danger of excessive use of social media can lead to humans losing the ability to interact with one another, creating other social problems. Author Sherry Turkle of “The Documented Life” exemplifies the common practice of excessive social media usage when she declares, “These days when people are alone, or feel a moment of boredom, they tend to reach for a device” (Turkle 3). In doing so, people resort to their electronic devices whenever they feel necessary. Social media usage has grown rapidly to the point that it is no longer a hobby to engage in occasionally it has become a daily routine. This epidemic has not only taken over the lives of young teens, but it has also affected grown adults. In “The Documented Life” Turkle questions a fourteen-year-old girl about the affects social media have on her relationship with her father. During dinner time, the girl attempts to get her father to converse with her at the table. She has to remind him, “Dad, stop Googling. I don’t care about the right answer. I want to talk to you” (3). Social media not only affects the lives of those engaging in it but it also affects the ones surrounding the loved one. The excessive use of social media can put a damper on personal relationships, causing one to feel neglected by their loved ones and enter a state of loneliness. Contrary to common belief, social media not only can emotionally affect its users, but can also have a physical effect on them as well. In, “Is Facebook making us Lonely?” Stephen Marche displays scientific evidence in the significant increase of therapists, social workers, nurse psychotherapists, mental-health counselors, etc. over the last 40 plus years. This considerable increase of mental health-care professionals has led to extensive speculation that this is due to the excessive use of social media networks (Marche 64). Some researchers have conducted studies to reveal that depressive symptoms found in adults can be linked to extended periods of time spent on social media. These researchers often refer to these symptoms as, “Facebook Depression” (Lewis, Knight, Germanov, Benstead, Joseph, and Poole 2). Along with the significant increase of professional help, digital technology has been scientifically proven to make humans experience feelings of loneliness. To exhibit the physical effects of social media on the human body, author Stephen Marche notes, “Loneliness affects not only the brain, but the process of DNA transcription. When you are lonely, your whole body is lonely” (Marche 66). Not only is social media dangerous to one’s overall mental health, it also drastically affects physical wellness. Regardless of the well-being of humans, social media is changing the way the world currently operates. Technology is rapidly evolving and creating a virtual society in which we live in. In, “Would You Quit Social Media If You Could?” author, Theresa Cramer, states, “Social media has fundamentally changed from being something college kids used to cyber stalk their crushes to big business” (Cramer 4). In the past, social media was primarily used for online communication and recreational leisure, now it has emerged into enterprises. This method, though time efficient, can limit the amount of verbal communication between businesses thus creating isolation in the work force. This amount of isolation and lack of verbal communication can lead humans into a state of loneliness. Humans need social interaction to maintain emotional, mental, and physical health. Not only is interaction important to our health, but communication is what defines us as humans. As human beings, we need to harness this miraculous ability and use it to our full potential. Our ability to communicate however, cannot solely be performed behind a computer screen.As social media continues to grow, so does the need for spreading the awareness of the possible concern it may have on society. Whether mentally, emotionally, or even physically, social media creates an isolationist society in which we have learned and accepted to become socially detached from face-to-face interaction. Communication and interaction is enriching to life and is necessary to fill the void of loneliness many long for and seek to find behind a computer screen. Living in a world of technology is inevitable we are constantly evolving to bigger and better things, but social media cannot define us as people and offer the unique qualities which make us human. Works CitedCramer, Theresa. “Would You Quit Social Media If You Could?” Information Today 4. Southeastern Louisiana University. Web. 11 January 2016.Lewis, Andrew J., Tess Knight, Galit Germanov, Michelle Lisa Benstead, Claire Ingrid Joseph, and Lucinda Poole. “The Impact on family functioning of social media use by depressed adolescents: a qualitative analysis of the family options study.” Frontiers in Psychiatry 6:131 (2015): 1-8. Southeastern Louisiana University. Web. 11 January 2016.Marche, Stephen. “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” The Atlantic Monthly (2012): 60-69. ProQuest Research Library. Web. January 9 2016.Turkle, Sherry. “The Documented Life.” The New York Times (2013): 1-3. Web. 9 January 2016Yuest, Karen-Marie. “Digital Power: exploring the effects of social media on children’s spirituality.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 19:2 (2014): 133-143 Southeastern Louisiana University. Web. 11 January 2016.