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Why is More Time Spent Socializing Online than in Person?

Updated on October 20, 2012
Tag cloud for social media, social networking, and social computing.
Tag cloud for social media, social networking, and social computing. | Source

The Question

A question in the Q&A section at HubPages caught my attention. Why do we spend so much more time socializing online than in person? Social networks are rampant online. Large networks include Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Pinterest and Instagram users are growing at a high rate. Yet what about stopping to say hello to your next-door neighbor or meeting a friend for coffee? Are you more likely to turn on the computer instead?

Are social networks like security blankets?
Are social networks like security blankets? | Source

Security Blanket

The internet, for some people, is a security blanket. They are able to sit behind a computer without having to dress up or impress anyone with their appearances. Instead, the words speak for themselves.

Imagine that you have low self-esteem. You are able to sign on to Twitter and interact with people who you do not know in real life. Your connections know only of your online persona and you are confident in your ability to write. For you, communication is easier if you are behind a keyboard and people read your words rather than judge you by appearance.

In this situation, socializing online is preferable to being social in person.

Is typing "Good Night" easier than having a conversation in person?
Is typing "Good Night" easier than having a conversation in person? | Source

Convenience

Another reason why people socialize online rather than in person is for convenience reasons. It is likely easier to turn on the computer and log in to Facebook than to call a friend and arrange between your two busy schedules to meet for coffee.

You can even still be in your PJs when you log onto Facebook. You simply take a few steps from your bedroom and there you are, ready to connect with a group of people online. If you meet your friend for coffee, you need to dress (remember the deodorant!) and travel to the location.

When you socialize in person, you also do not have the convenient option of signing out of a conversation at whim. You can log off Twitter when you have to go make dinner or type a one-liner on Google+ when you are too tired to type anymore. A simple "Good night" suffices if you are in the middle of an online conversation. In person, you cannot leave a friend's home quite as quickly! If you did just say "Good night" and leave, your friend would likely view your actions as rude. Convenience? Not so much.

Mobility Issues

Another reason for the rise of online socializing is mobility issues. Not everyone is able to easily leave home. You may have small children or have a physical or mental affliction that keeps you home much of the day. If you are less mobile and live alone, you may feel lonely.

One way to get over loneliness is to log onto your computer and connect with people online. When you type your password into Twitter, you instantly connect with hundreds or even thousands of followers. There are messages within each user's profile that you can read and respond to in real time. All without even having to leave your home.

And You?

There are many reasons why many people socialize more often online than in person. Mobility issues, convenience, and the ability to safely hide behind the keyboard are all reasons for the trend.

Do you find yourself logging on to social media networks more often than you socialize in person? What do you think are the reasons for this trend? I look forward to your answers!

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    • ChristyWrites profile image
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      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Haha CarNoobz!

      Bonsie007, great that you have perspective and balance.

      Ken, exactly, we need to step away from technology every once in a while :)

      Hi LoveDoctor, nice to see you! I hear you about being genuine, regardless whether we are in person or on computer. HP is certainly a nice place to be, agree!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Hi Christy, great hub! very interesting too. You made very good points. I've often thought about this topic. I consider myself very down to earth. I actually prefer to talk on the phone rather than typing on a keyboard. For me, logging on to social networking sites is one way to chill after a long day. I am who I am. I don't put up a fake persona, but I know what you mean, many people do. There are a lot of nice people here on the hub.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 4 years ago from Malaysia

      What you have written up there are absolutely true. Socialize online is easier and convenient than hanging out. But that doesn't mean that we should take it for granted. Once in a while we should step out from our space and join the crowd. :)

    • Bonsie007 profile image

      Bonsie007 4 years ago

      So true! I was on facebook at one time but no more. It was time consuming for me. I love when my children call me. Great hub.

    • CarNoobz profile image

      CarNoobz 4 years ago from USA

      That's a good question, Christy. My wife and I text each other all day -- while we're at home. Hey, at least we're communicating, right?

      Voted up and shared.

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi Jynzly, interesting. I suppose people that submit more articles online are the ones that take part more in socializing as it is a way to network and meet other writers. Thanks for the comment.

    • Jynzly profile image

      Jenny Pugh 4 years ago from Marion, Indiana, USA

      I am exempted to this, I never ever had liked socializing online...no way. The internet for me is writing and posting pictures for preservation but never converse with people I don't know personally.

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks lovedoctor for such a poignant response. I agree about people putting up fake personas. I enjoy meeting genuine people online, such as you!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      it's more than likely that they will not meet in person... (correction)

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      The internet is a security blanket for many people. I am often surprised at how much personal information people reveal about themselves on social networking sites. Many people who interact online feel more comfortable doing so because they lack good social skills so they can put up a fake persona and it wouldn't really matter because it's more than likely that they will meet in person. Socializing in an online community like hubpages gives writers an opportunity to connect with others through poetry and writing and also by sharing their thoughts and experiences with the rest of us online. For all those skeptics out there, I must say that not everyone whom you come across on social networking sites are bad people. I have met some wonderful writers in this community. Thanks Christy for sharing. Voted up!

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks everyone for your insightful comments. I see the variety of reasons why sharing online has become a large part of many people's days, whether for personal or business purposes. Cheers for the votes, shares, and most of all great comments here for me to read!

    • Archa Ghodge profile image

      Archa 4 years ago from India

      Nice hub...and actually now a days people are more concerned getting more and more social online.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      This is very true Christy. I socialize more online because I am living in a different country and I have to talk with my family almost everyday through the internet.

      Thanks for sharing. :-)

    • profile image

      rgmg50 4 years ago

      Great hub, voted up. I do both, some of my friends are in both worlds if I can put it that way, I can have coffee with a friend now and send a Facebook message to the same friend later, for example. I think there are advantages to both and as long as one keeps the balance, it is good. I meet people on line that I will never meet in person because online is international. Then on the other hand, I think there is a difference to having aBF in person than online.

    • profile image

      Justsilvie 4 years ago

      Interesting Hub! Social Media is a great way to introduce you to people and keep up with friends and family in faraway places, but it is never as good as the real time contact and if you find out all your friends are virtual it is time to get up and get a life. Voted up and shared.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      I love socializing in real life much more then online, but the reality has come to a point that without making online business contacts, well you might end up having no online potential to grow a business, and so my purpose for being on the web all day and night is more related to doing business, making real world connections, and just a minute drop of family communications.

      The rest is what I do here on hubpages with my writings, and so yup it all definitely takes balance, and I don't think everyone cares to do this online stuff, but your hub definitely pertains to those whom are most addicted, and or do it for both leisure, and digital works.

      Nice hub here, it flowed very well, and it make perfect sense all of your reasons for explaining why people seem to prefer online social life today, much more then that of the real social environment.

      Thumbs up and out!

      Christy sharing this one will be my pleasure.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Christy, valid reasons here. But I do not do much of social networking, in fact hardly do any. With hubpages taking a lot of my time there is hardly any left.

      Voting this up and interesting and sharing.

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love the answers everyone! It's nice to read that many of your find friendships online and that HubPages is one of the sources that keep away loneliness. Also, as Teaches writes, busy schedules make it hard to meet sometimes in real life. Glad to connect with all of you and thanks for the great comments!

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      I think it's because you're able to meet so many people that it's a tempting thing, just as it is here on HubPages

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. For me to answer it's simple. The cyber world had become my world because I moved to Riga and all my friends were left behind. I do not have one single friend here and the neighbors are good for waving to but no one really socializes. So now I have many, many friend on the Internet and I'm happy. Passing this on.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Christy, I find it easier to communicate with friends online with my busy schedule. If they are not online, which some of them are not, I find it hard to keep in touch with them regularly. I can still have that cup of coffee when I am talking online! Great read here and well done. Voted up.

    • Marc Babineau profile image

      Marc Babineau 4 years ago from Cornwall, Ontario, The Seaway City

      Not everyone does this - some of us actually have more real friends than online friends (me!)... however, i do of many people who are like that commercial on tv where the daughter has "over 600 Facebook friends" and sits on the couch Saturday night while the parents, who have "17 whole friends!" are out having fun all the time... I wanna be like the parents! Is that a bad thing these days?

      Great hub! When they encourage and demand comments they're really good!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I like the convenience of online networking and like Sharkye11 said-sometimes you don't want to put all of the effort into getting dressed and meeting others.

      However, I still would like an offline life so that I don't feel so much like a hermit dependent on high speed internet access.

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      That is so powerful and well-written. I definitely voted up.

    • ChristyWrites profile image
      Author

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Great enthusiastic feedback everyone! While some of you enjoy the ability to turn off online conversations easily, others of you enjoy social networks as you live in remote locations. Great to hear you points and I am learning more about socializing online. Thanks everyone!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I am far from shy and work with the public in my job. Maybe that's why I prefer my online friends - they're nicer and I can go away when I want to. :)) Interesting Hub.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Fabulous hub, Christy! You have definitely hit on some interesting points while remaining objective.

      Personally, I tend to socialize equally on and offline, with family and acquaintances. Living with a biker who is a people magnet, I sometimes feel oversocialized. I prefer online socializing for a few reasons. Firstly, I am able to connect at anytime to family and friends that live thousands a miles away.

      Also, I live outside of a small town in rural Oklahoma, and it is very difficult to find friends that share the same interests. I can go online and make a few friends that like to write, such as on Hubpages. I've met other artists to talk to. I can find a person who wants to discuss philosophy or crafts, literature or politics at a simple click. In real life I can listen to only so many conversations about cows or what potluck to take to church...but eventually I have to find someplace to stretch my mind out.

      And of course the reasons others have mentioned. I am a private person, and sometimes company just doesn't know when to leave. I ran into that a lot when my daughter was a baby and awful as it sounds, it turned me off of some of my friends for a long time. Online I don't have to be dressed, or have a clean house, and if my daughter needs my full attention, I can just get up and leave.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting and true. Personally I am quite balanced between online and real socializing. The latter definitely demands more energy, effort and time, but it is certainly more meaningful and satisfying.

      Voted up and interesting; a relevant topic well-presented :)

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I know several people who are "addicted" to their facebook or twitter accounts. I very rarely sign into facebook because I lose way too many precious hours before I know it...But I do think that these outlets are great for keeping in contact with people that you can't possibly meet up with in person. Those that are out-of-state, out-of-country. Nice job!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Everyone has their own reasons for activity on the different social networks. Personally I like people face to face. However, I have found old friends and enjoy staying in touch. I mostly support my writing and many other's writing online. But for those who cannot get out a lot as you mentioned the internet can be a real friend. Great hub and enjoyed what you wrote. Voted UP.

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 4 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Great food for thought Christy! Wonderful hub about a perplexing subject. I have so much family on facebook it does take away from my writing. It tweeks my social butterflyness that's for sure! Yet, what I am learning about myself and my ability to say what I feel with words, which has always been easier for me than in person, that speaks volumes in and of itself.

      Two sides to every story, cyberhugs do not compare to the real thing in any shape or form of the imagination, so people contact is vital too!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      It really is bad. We don't have to be inconvenienced with literal friends, we show up when we want to, go home and lock the door when we want to. Now real stores are suffering because not as many want to show up there either. A real change in life we just eased right into, huh? Great insight. ^

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Christy, I find for me it is partly convenience being a stay at home mom to two small kids and also trying start up self-employment at home, as well. Very interesting though and happy to know I am not alone here though. Have of course voted, shared and tweeted, too!!

    • todaylearning profile image

      todaylearning 4 years ago from Texas, United States

      saved money on gas, interesting hub.

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 4 years ago from usa

      I stay far out and my neighbors do not have the same interest as me. They like going to bars or over their family's house. I have a small family who live out of town. Online there are more interested things to do like reading without any problems but viruses on your computer. And yes I can entertain by self at a low cost with my hair sticking up in the air. Isn't that fun! I am sharing your article with other hubbers.

    • LupitaRonquillo profile image

      LupitaRonquillo 4 years ago from Colorado

      Another reason people prefer to socialize online is popularity. It can be addicting because in their real world, they may not be as outgoing or have self esteem issues. Online, tons of so- called friends can be made making you appear as very confident and outgoing. If your trying to promote your work, that's one thing. Going online can help, such as our writing community here on hubpages. My facebook rule is if your not a long lost relative or classmate and I've never met you, I don't friend you. Many people are so busy trying to become "popular" but the real concern is they forget about safeguarding their life! Stalkers and child molesters can easily find so much about you with just a few clicks and as a first time mom, I'm more careful on setting myself and my family up as a target!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good job Christy! I just recently cut back on Facebook, for a variety of reasons. Most importantly because I am a writer, and although I can see the advantage of networking on Facebook, it simply takes too much time away from my writing, and for me it's not worth the trade-off.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Well, I guess because in this day and age it seems to be important for promoting online writing and businesses. It seems to be becoming a financial issue. Good Hub!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Well said, Christy.

      I usually look for convenience and not bothering about disturbing anyone thus, the social media is so flexible. Just ping her/him with the desired message and they reply back at their convenience.

      However, sometimes sitting across someone with a cup of tea is favorable but that needs scheduling of time/date!

      I dunno if man is going into his shell by favoring the social media but, I feel we sure get more productive when we go via that route.

      interesting hub.

      sharing it across

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