Being Alone Never Felt So Wrong
As most people would agree, the United States’ health is in a serious decline with 8.6 million Americans suffering from cancer and 26.8 million diagnosed with heart disease and as of 2009 according to the Center for Disease Control. This problem cannot be solved by simply modifying one’s diet, cannot be changed by consuming more medication, and cannot be remedied with regular exercise. The health of today’s people is being affected by an avenue largely ignored by the medical community, a social life. According a survey across eight different academic institutions by The Journal of American College Health, “the typical Internet-using student uses the Internet for 100 minutes per day, and a small group of students use the Internet to a degree that interferes with other aspects of their lives” (Anderson 21). In this era of social networking, more and more Americans are substituting close personal relationships with large numbers of shallow “facebook” friends. This may not sound threatening but a study conducted by the Behavioral Medicine Research Center and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the Duke University found that “the magnitude of risk associated with social isolation is comparable with that of cigarette smoking and other major biomedical and psychosocial risk factors” (Brummett 271). Unfortunately, this aspect of health is often overlooked, but is especially pertinent to today’s youth. As college students prepare to move away from home and develop their own priorities, beyond the popular struggles of sustaining a healthy body (dental hygiene, regular exercise, and dieting), students should also consider their social life as an important avenue of health. Social isolation is strongly correlated with the chances of developing an illness, the chances of recovering from a disease, and with the overall risk of mortality.
Social isolation is not a random ailment that affects only few people. Social isolation in the United States has actually increased in the last twenty years to alarming rates. As quoted by CBS News, Duke University sociologist, Lynn Smith-Lovin concludes from his twenty-year study that, “From 1985 to 2004, the number of people saying there is no one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled. Now, 24.6 percent report they have no confidants, family or non-family — that's one in four Americans. Another 19.6 percent say they have just one confidant. That means 43 percent of Americans have either no confidants or just one, a slice that has doubled since 1985” (Meyer). Social isolation is a serious concern for one in every four people that live in the United States. Lacking social relationships is becoming a serious force, is relevant to large portion of the American population, and has serious consequences that I will detail later in this paper. According to Lynn Smith-Lovin, "We know these close ties are what people depend on in bad times. We're not saying people are completely isolated. They may have 600 friends on Facebook.com and e-mail 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important” (Shankar). Unlike the social atmosphere of twenty years ago, today’s social world is becoming more and more visible on the internet, especially with the boom of social networking sites in the United States. This transition to more interactions on the web and less face-to-face interactions can lead to a false sense of social stability and security.
Internet use in the United States has also increased along with social isolation especially among college students. “In a study of a college population, Scherer found that 13% of college Internet users fit her criteria for Internet dependence” (Anderson 22). The Internet has given us endless possibilities for improving society, but as with any new innovation there comes a price tag. “72% of college student check their email at least once a day and 85% of college students...
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