Social networking screws you up

The following may seem like yet another example of science stating the bleeding obvious, but it’s good to have an expert address the issue in depth, rather than some ignorant gobshite with a newspaper column sound off based on little more than personal prejudice.

Psychologist Aric Sigman has warned that people’s health could be damaged by online social networking. This is because the websites in question reduce levels of face-to-face contact, and serve to keep people apart rather than enrich their social lives.

“Social networking is the internet’s biggest growth area, particularly among young children,” says Sigman. “Social networking sites should allow us to embellish our social lives, but what we find is very different. The tail is wagging the dog. These are not tools that enhance, they are tools that displace.”

Personally, I have no interest in such fripperies as social networking websites, yet note that the science journalism community is currently obsessed with the ridiculous, over-hyped Twitter.

While I cannot comment from personal experience on social networking websites, I do know a thing or two about blogs. Going by some of the more popular electronic ecosystems beloved of political bloggers and associated comment trolls, Sigman is almost certainly correct when one considers the mental disorders prevalent in these life displacement forums.

“Well connected? The biological implications of ‘social networking’”, Aric Sigman, The Biologist, 56/1, 14 (2009).