Are You Suffering From Social-Media-Induced Loneliness?

Social media’s biggest draw is that it allows us to connect with each other, so why does it make us ... [+] getty

Many people come to therapy when they are struggling with loneliness. They ask questions like:

  • “Why do I feel lonelier now than ever before, despite being more connected online?”
  • “How can I make meaningful connections with others when everything is done online?”
  • “Why do I feel like social media is causing me to tunnel into a dark, lonely hole?”

If you think about questions like these, you’ll be relieved to know that it’s not just you.

What you are experiencing is an increasingly common phenomenon that is well-documented in scientific research. For instance, one study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that today’s teenagers spend approximately an hour less per day socializing with their peers compared to teenagers who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, according to the study, adolescents who reported fewer in-person social interactions and more online interactions felt most lonely and isolated.

Social media can create a false sense of connection and belonging. Online interactions lack the nonverbal cues, physical presence, and emotional intimacy that are crucial to building and maintaining meaningful relationships.

Social media can also lead to feelings of social comparison and inadequacy, as well as feelings of isolation due to constant FOMO (fear of missing out).

But there is hope. Here are some science-backed strategies to help you address and overcome feelings of loneliness stemming from too much social media.

#1. Limit your social media use

Yes, it’s easier said than done. But the benefits of timing and restricting your social media usage can be huge. Research published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that limiting people’s time on social apps like Facebook and Snapchat to 10 minutes per day significantly reduced feelings of loneliness and depression. The sweet spot, according to the researchers, may be about 30 minutes or less per day.

By setting boundaries with technology, we can focus on developing face-to-face interactions and building real connections. Social media is designed to be addictive, so there is no shame in seeking the help of a mental health practitioner to reduce your dependence on it.

A therapist might suggest creating a schedule to limit social media usage, setting specific times of the day to check and engage with social media, and finding alternative activities to fill the time that you would have spent on social media.

While this can seem challenging at first, with the right mindset and strategies, you can develop a healthy relationship with social media and reduce your feelings of loneliness.

#2. Choose authenticity over social validation

The constant need to present a perfect image on social media can lead to a phenomenon known as ‘social surveillance,’ where users not only carefully curate their own posts, but also closely monitor the content posted by others on their profiles and pages. This can be detrimental to one’s mental health, as it encourages individuals to chase after societal norms and popularity rather than being true to themselves.

A recent study published in the Journal of Psychology found that this dynamic can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, as users often find themselves questioning whether their actions will be accepted or rejected by their peers before posting something on social media.

It’s also important to realize that any validation you may receive on an inauthentic version of yourself will ultimately feel hollow and fake. If true human connection is what you value, try to attract people who like you for you by showing the world what you truly care about.

Remember, social media is just a tool to connect you with others. It is not the endgame. Focus on building real-world connections through your online presence and your loneliness will improve.

Loneliness is a difficult and painful experience. But, if you can trace its cause to social media, you’re already halfway to fixing the problem.

By limiting your social media use, being authentic online, and seeking out face-to-face interactions, you can learn to address the causes of your social-media-induced loneliness and build the real connections you need to feel less alone.

Mark Travers, Ph.D., is an American psychologist with degrees from Cornell University and the University of Colorado Boulder. He is the lead psychologist at Awake Therapy,

Source: Are You Suffering From Social-Media-Induced Loneliness?

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Game of Tongues: How Duolingo Built A $700 Million Business With Its Addictive Language-Learning App

Slack off on your daily Spanish lesson and a cellphone alert will auto-generate at the same time you used the app the day before. Duo appears on your screen as an emoji, nagging you to keep up with your drills.

Millions obey Duo’s commands. Created seven years ago by MacArthur “genius” computer geek Luis von Ahn, 40, Duolingo has hooked everyone from Bill Gates, Khloe Kardashian and Jack Dorsey to Syrian refugees in Turkey.

“The moment I felt proudest was when I realized, Wow, the richest man in the world is using the same system as the lowest people on the economic scale,” says Von Ahn. “That is for me really special and pretty big.”

Duolingo has lots of room to grow bigger still. More than 2 billion people worldwide are studying a foreign language, and increasingly they are doing it online. Digital language-learning generates $6 billion in revenue, and that number is projected to rise to $8.7 billion by 2025. But it’s a highly fragmented market with dozens of players scattered around the globe, and it’s begging for a dominant one.

Von Ahn certainly knows how to execute on a grand scale. When he was a 21-year-old grad student he gave the world CAPTCHA—better known to billions of internet users as those annoying squiggly letters that you have to transcribe to prove that you are not a bot. Later he sold two inventions to Google, netting more than $20 million.

He splurged on a Lamborghini and a Tesla Model S but otherwise leads a modest life, remaining in the six-bedroom house he bought with his ex-wife in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood, close to Duolingo’s offices. “I could have gone to Guatemala to live in a villa, but I didn’t want to,” he says. Instead, he has thrown himself into building the world’s most downloaded education app.

Duolingo already offers more languages than its competitors do, 36 at last count. They include little-spoken tongues like Hawaiian, Navajo and Gaelic and the fictional language High Valyrian from the HBO blockbuster Game of Thrones (1.2 million users are studying it). À la Wikipedia, Duolingo enlists volunteers to help create its more obscure courses.

Seven years after its launch, it has nearly 30 million active monthly users, according to its own figures. Venture capitalists have pumped in $108 million, ballooning Duolingo’s valuation to $700 million in 2017, $150 million more than the market capitalization of Rosetta Stone, its 27-year-old publicly traded rival.

Along with teaching more languages (Rosetta Stone offers 25), Duolingo attracts users because its basic ad-supported version is free, compared with the $120 a year Rosetta Stone charges its 500,000 subscribers. Another competitor, Berlin-based Babbel, says its revenue of more than $115 million comes from the $85-a-year subscription fee it charges its million-plus subscribers.

Only 1.75% of Duolingo’s users pay for its ad-free version ($84 a year), but because its base is so huge, revenue hit $36 million last year. Von Ahn says that will climb to $86 million in 2019 and $160 million in 2020 as more users sign on and pay for the premium app, which will attract them with new features. Employee head count will rise from 170 to 200 by year’s end.

Duolingo’s headquarters, in a converted furniture store in East Liberty, a gentrifying neighborhood not far from Google’s Pittsburgh office, is set to expand to a second floor. The company isn’t profitable, but Von Ahn says it will be cash-flow positive this year. He is planning an IPO by 2021.

He likes to say that the money he forfeits giving away the app is equivalent to the cost of his rivals’ bloated marketing budgets. He also boasts that users are less likely to quit Duolingo than they are to bail out of competing language apps. “Our retention is comparable to games,” he says.

The comparison is apt. Duolingo grabs users with gamification tricks like points, treasure chests and “streaks” for continuous use. The app’s three-minute lessons are designed with a simple interface. In a typical exercise, the sentence “I eat bread” appears above seven bubbled words. Drag the words onto a line, hit “check” and “You are correct” appears at the bottom of the screen with a satisfying chime. Fans tweet about funny sentences generated by the software, like “I am selling my mother-in-law for a euro.”

Duolingo has gotten bad press from writers who try the app and don’t learn much. But Von Ahn promises only to get users to a level between advanced beginner and early intermediate. “A significant portion of our users use it because it’s fun and it’s not a complete waste of time,” he says….Read more

In February 2018, I took on a new job managing and writing Forbes’ education coverage. I’d spent the previous two years on the Entrepreneurs team

Source: Game of Tongues: How Duolingo Built A $700 Million Business With Its Addictive Language-Learning App

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