This comes as no surprise to those of us who have embraced social media along. In fact, it makes perfect sense.
Social media encourages us to reach to people we don’t know. Granted we do this reaching from a safe distance, but at least we do it. We reach out and communicate with people we might not otherwise every communicate with at all. This in and of itself is part of the reason we are more social when we use social media.
Social media also encourages us to share details of our lives we might not otherwise share. It encourages us to post photos, videos and snippets of information from our lives we would simply lock away in a treasure box somewhere and forget about.
I didn’t need a research poll to tell me social media made us all more social. I was able to figure that out all by myself.
A new Pew Research study shows people who don’t use Facebook or social media sites are missing out. The study shows a new digital divide between people that interact over the web and those who don’t and says Facebook could make you more trusting, give you closer relationships and more emotional support and get you more involved in politics. The nearly 20% of Americans not using the Internet have a smaller social network, are less likely to vote and are less involved with their neighbors.
Facebook users are more trusting, have more close relationships, get more social support and are more politically engaged than people who don’t use Facebook.
The Facebook website is displayed on a laptop computer on May 9, 2011 in San Anselmo, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
This is all according to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Pew reports that while the average Internet user is twice as likely as a non-Internet user to feel that people can be trusted, the average Facebook user is 43 percent more likely than that to be trusting.
Facebook users also scored slightly higher than average Americans when it came to having close relationships and when it came to getting emotional support from other people. This contradicts a popular stereotype that Facebook is the domain of false relationships or that it’s a place where meaningless chatter between people who really don’t care at all about one another.
We speak with the lead author of the study, Keith Hampton, assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He says, contrary to the stereotype one might have of social media users as insular, “We didn’t find any evidence that they tend to cocoon with people who are more similar to themselves. In fact, we found users of some platforms, like MySpace, are actually more likely to be able to consider alternative points of view.”
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