Social Media: Are we really socializing?

We can all admit it- we’ve been in a room full of people and haven’t said a single word to anyone. Instead, we’ve been on our phones; checking social media or playing a game. No one can deny the numerous benefits to instant knowledge that technology provides us with. But, when is enough, enough? Did Bill Gates or Steve Jobs foresee our society today as being dependent on our devices to the point where human interaction suffers? Today, anxiety disorders run rampant in emerging adults, being the second most reported psychological disability in this age group. (Vannucci, Flannery, Ohannessian, 2017) There seems to be a link between the use of social media and the rates of anxiety in our generation, and that is a problem. Social media allows us to connect with others, but is it really helping us become more social?

Social anxiety is a disorder marked in the DSM-IV that highlights “a persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others.” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Social media may harbor a safe haven for people who struggle to interact with people in social situations. In fact, it may go as far as allowing persons with anxiety disorders to develop avoidant coping strategies and allow them to isolate themselves socially. (Vannucci, et al., 2017) Social media allows people to interact without the fear of face-to-face conversation and anticipated embarrassment (a hallmark of social anxiety disorders), but this also keeps their socialization limited to a phone or computer.

Our ability as emerging adults to communicate with the person next to us seems to be dwindling. Author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek discusses how we enter meetings and go straight to our phone because “god forbid” we have to speak to the person next us. We have left a time of human interaction and networking, and moved to a time of LinkedIn. He has a great point of view on the dangers of social media. He highlights how dopamine is released and makes us feel good when we use social media. High levels of this neurotransmitter, or “brain chemical,” make us feel rewarded; and when using social media, our brains will secrete high levels of dopamine. What can be wrong with that? As Sinek points out, this causes an addiction to social media. When we are away from it, we experience low levels of dopamine, which can cause anxiety or depression. Social media’s addictive properties are what can make it dangerous. When we are without social media, we can become anxious. Watch a clip of an interview with Simon below:

Social media may be a great tool to connect with others, but there are limitations to this. Our increasing rates of anxiety in our generation may be rooted in the dangers of social media. We are allowing a place for people to falsify human interaction and the expense of their own mental health. Social media may allow those with social anxiety to facilitate avoidant coping strategies and increase social isolation. It may also increase addictive tendencies in emerging adults, which may lead to withdrawal symptoms of anxiety and depression. Technology is a great advancement in our time, but needs to be watched carefully and better understood. We are not giving it enough caution in our world. Social media is barely socializing, it is allowing us to become a dependent, anti-social society.


Vannucci, A., Flannery, K. M., & Ohannessian, C. M. (2017). Social media use and anxiety in emerging adults. Journal of Affective Disorders, 207, 163-166.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Sinek, S., & King, L. (2017). Simon Sinek on millienials and social media addiction.



  1. Youlanda Rodney

    The way newsworthy information is transmitted has drastically evolved from a few years ago. It is custom these days that we can be updated on events while they occur or merely a few minutes after they occur, pictures and/ or video of the event is available from sources other than a news agency. That is the effect social media has on our world. I do agree that Facebook has emerged as one of the dominant transmitters of news in recent times. In my opinion this fact has as many positives as it does negatives.

    Contrary to two decades ago when we were used to having our stories delivered to us by newspaper, radio or television, Facebook gives us the ability to access news from a variety of reporters. This allows us to decide “what we believe,” and not settle for the views of a particular source. Also, the quick transmission of information can help to solve crimes. The NY City news service suggests, “Now, organizations like National Center for Missing & Exploited Children can increase the likelihood missing children are found thanks to more immediate and full-range awareness raised on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram” (The Missing, 2018). On the opposite side, we’re bombarded with so much information that we don’t know what to believe. In fact, there has been a serious concern about many of the stories on social media being fake. So, it’s a case of seeing the glass half full or half empty.

    THE MISSING. (2018). Social Media’s Role in Finding the Missing. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].

  2. It seems like daily I see my own friends and acquaintances online announcing, or in some way claiming, that they have social anxiety. I will admit, when I first noticed this trend, I doubted how someone who was so socially active online could truly have social anxiety. It just didn’t make sense to me. These people who have thousands of friends online, are the first to like and comment on your posts, etc. However, the world of social media does not necessarily provide a true social connection.

    As you stated, social anxiety is a fear of one or various situations that could be encountered in a social environment (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012). Research has revealed that social anxiety can lead to social avoidant behavior, which can further contribute to feelings of social and emotional loneliness, as well as depression (Schneider et al., 2012). Some might argue that at our core, human beings are hardwired to be social creatures, and thrive with social connection. Our ancestors required social connections to survive. The cavemen before them also required some type of role within a social environment to survive. One could not go it alone.

    Obviously now, times have changed. It is not necessary to venture to the grocery store when you can order it all online and have it delivered straight to your door. No longer do you have to visit the post office, purchase stamps, and place your envelope in the mail. Now, you can order stamps online, have them shipped to you, and you merely place your letter in your mailbox from the safety of your front yard. While the advances in technology have provided society with some amazing tools, in some ways, they have also stolen away motivation, a sense of accomplishment, and yes even our social lives. Believe it or not, saying good afternoon to the cashier at Harris Teeter is in fact a social relationship!

    On the other hand, social media is valuable as it offers an alternative way for the world to connect with one another, when it may be difficult to do so under certain scenarios. From a personal standpoint, I live about 850 miles from the rest of my family, and due to my husband’s job, we move around frequently. Social media provides us with an easy way to share certain aspects of our lives with our family and friends who live so far away. Although, I will be the first to tell you that a comment or post on Facebook does in no way take the place of a sit-down conversation over coffee with my best friends back home.

    Perhaps some individuals are predisposed to anxiety, and more specifically, social anxiety. For those individuals, social media may be a blessing or a curse. A blessing because it prevents them from facing their fear, and a curse because it likely worsens their condition and will make it harder to overcome.

  3. This is a popular topic right now, perhaps because in a matter of a few years, social media has completely nudged its way into people’s lives. So many people have a difficult time functioning without their smart phone or like you mentioned, without social media. Though, cell phones have only been widely accessible for a short period of time and it is now unheard of to not have one. I certainly agree that too much of something like social media can be harmful. Though, at the same time, there are many positives of social media. More than ever before, people can stay connected and even gain a support system online. People can even attend therapy sessions on the internet.

    AJ Agrawal discusses in their article, some positives of social media. Agrawal notes that social media contributes to life saving news alerts, a more informed society, marketing exposure, and even disaster relief support (Agrawal, 2016). Social media is the way many societies communicate with one another through relationships, advertising, and information. Those without social media are therefore sometimes at a disadvantage. There should be a way for our society to incorporate social media into their lives without it becoming an addiction. I am certainly curious to see how this trend will play out and if it will evolve into something different.

    Agrawal, A. (2016, March 18). It’s not all bad: The social good of social. Retrieved from

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