Daughter Karen, our resident expert in social media, has encouraged me to continue to explore the use of new technologies in the classroom. Given the time constraints I have, keeping up with this is usually a hit or miss thing. But once in awhile, I hit on something that is really fun and catches the attention of students.

As readers of my blog know, I use Cacioppo and Patrick’s Loneliness:  Human nature and the need for social connection as enrichment reading for my Intro Psych class. We do many different activities related to this reading. One that I particularly like asks students to go to Twitter Search and search for “loneliness.” Then they list and react to the top 5 things that Twitter Search returns.  Okay, let’s see what’s up right now….

  1. “Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.”
  2. do i kill my old lady neighbour?? she’s screaming all day against pigeons…loneliness
  3. hahaha.. nah. Nonthing more fun than a room of people that u know 😀 Loneliness now and then can be fun. 😀
  4. i’m an aries. I want to find love and i don’t want loneliness
  5. Someone….anyone…please say hullo to me! I am withering in twitter loneliness.
Cacioppo and Patricks Loneliness

Cacioppo and Patrick's Loneliness

Although it’s commonly believed that people who use the internet a lot are “compensating” for their lack of real world connectivity, our research is pointing in another direction. People are online pretty much exactly the way they are in real life. Lonely in one place, lonely in another. We’ll be presenting some of our data at APS in May–stay tuned!


ljgarcia · April 19, 2009 at 3:25 pm

i think it is true that if you are lonely, you are lonely regardless of the place but i also think that the internet has become an outlet for loneliness as well. the feeling may be the same but the way in which one is dealing with it is different, resorting to technology to rid of the feeling is what has changed.
it is so interesting to me how much technology changes our lifestyle and emotional well beings

steelersfan086 · April 19, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Twitter seems like an interesting website. It was weird that they bolded the word loneliness in each of the five statements. It is almost as if they are researching to see if people feel lonely when they read the statements. Even if the statement is funny or produces a smile, I couldn’t help but feel my mood drop when I got to the word loneliness. The word seems to emit a negative connotation and it was really interesting to me that this happened just by reading the five sentences. I do agree that people are going to be lonely no matter where they are. However, certain groups of people are known to be more lonely than others. For instance, college students, particularly males, are the most lonely group out there. Are these the people that use the Internet the most? Perhaps there is a correlation between who uses the Internet and who is lonely. It is strange to think about but insightful nonetheless.

helenasetiawan · April 20, 2009 at 8:34 pm

I personally don’t use Twitter, but from watching my friends update their Twitter, it’s kind of creepy. It’s like having the entire world know what you are up to at that very moment. In a way, I guess it makes whoever the lonely person is, feel better. If he or she is in the grocery store and feels “lonely”, then all they gotta do is update their status and those who follow along will be with that person in spirit. Sometimes I feel that people who use Twitter needs to constantly have someone know what they are doing. Maybe the Twitter updater helps lonely people not feel lonely by allowing them to “be there” with them. I guess personally it gets kinda annoying to see someone constantly updating their every single move:)

genevieve99 · April 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm

This whole Twitter frenzy is all foreign to me. Is it just a bunch of updating what you’re doing at any given moment? Isn’t that what facebook’s status is for? I think that the internet is a great way to help with loneliness but it can also be a step further to becoming a cry for attention. This topic reminds me of postsecret. Postsecret.com (updated every Sunday, yes I’m slightly obsessed) allows people to share their fears, secrets, and thoughts with the world but in a completely private way.

The internet has certainly helped with loneliness since I am from across the country (away from family and friends) but I do not feel the need to update what I am doing at each moment. Some people get too caught up in the internet life, making inernet friends and that detatches them from reality. I also think that it is the PERFECT WAY to lose some social ability. I think I am just more old fashioned in my way of thinking of a social life (letters-snail mail or face to face conversations)

What will be next?

ljgarcia · April 23, 2009 at 2:27 pm

i feel like why would you want to continually update someone about what you are doing all day- obviously if someone asks or wants to make plans with you, you tell them… it does not need to be broadcasted to everyone, it is not necessary nor is it in everyones interest to know. i think using the internet it could just be deceiving to those lonely people who use it to and it can be them avoiding the issue thinking that “twittering” is helping them when really it is temporarily avoiding the feeling, if even that.

Jenniferdonnelly · April 28, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I don’t have twitter, but I can understand why it has bectme so popular. It’s the same idea as facebook “statuses.” People want attention and will do what they can to get it. I think this loneliness post shows that need very clearly. These are obviously people who feel lonely in their life, and want some kind of interaction and validation, even if it is merely through something like twitter.

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