Great New York magazine article here on how loneliness might be something we can inherit. There are many factors (extroversion, social support, living arrangement) that go into how we experience and process the feeling of being lonely, so perhaps it should be unsurprising that at least part of the phenomenon comes from our DNA (internal causes) and not just our circumstances (external causes).
A new study reveals that people who post photos with certain characteristics (specific filters like “inkwell” that makes pictures more blue, dark, and gray) are more likely to be depressed. It’s definitely worth a read, and here is the full spectrum of filter use:
In terms of social connection, image-based platforms like Snapchat and Instagram help us feel more connected to our friends than text-based platforms. In research I published with my colleague Brandon Reich, we found that the more image platforms people used, the more their loneliness went down and happiness went up.
The following two heat maps of responses helps to illustrate these differences. People were asked why they used certain platforms. The first image is a heat map of the most commonly used words describing image platform use; the second is for text platforms. Can you see any differences that might explain why images help connect us more?
Sherry Turkle has been studying technology and human connectedness for decades, and her interview with The Atlantic about the importance of conversation is great.
John Cacioppo is sort of the godfather of loneliness research. He has a great TED talk about the subject, and along with William Patrick wrote this book.
Since you might not have time to read the hundreds of academic articles he’s written, the book is a good summary. One of his main ideas is that, although loneliness is stigmatized, the need for human connection is universal. Loneliness is like hunger or thirst—it is the body’s way of telling us that something is lacking.
Great New York Times article by Katie Hafner about the health problems loneliness can cause, particularly for older adults.