Written by Sara Konrath.
In the early 1930s, Freud wrote about the happiness of hearing a loved one’s voice on the telephone, but recognized the tradeoffs of new technologies: “If there had been no railway to conquer distances, my child would never have left his native town and I should need no telephone to hear his voice.” New technologies can increase our sense of connection even while they enable people to live further apart from each other. Paradoxically, Facebook makes us feel both more and less connected at the same time.
My research has found that narcissism has been increasing over the past 30 years in American culture, while empathic traits have been declining. It is easy to blame social media for such changes, since much research finds that narcissistic people use social media more frequently and for more self-promoting reasons.
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