No one joins Facebook to be sad and lonely. But a new study from the University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross argues that that’s exactly how it makes us feel. Over two weeks, Kross and his colleagues sent text messages to eighty-two Ann Arbor residents five times per day. The researchers wanted to know a few things: how their subjects felt overall, how worried and lonely they were, how much they had used Facebook, and how often they had had direct interaction with others since the previous text message. Kross found that the more people used Facebook in the time between the two texts, the less happy they felt—and the more their overall satisfaction declined from the beginning of the study until its end. The data, he argues, shows that Facebook was making them unhappy.
Research into the alienating nature of the Internet—and Facebook in particular—supports Kross’s conclusion. In 1998, Robert Kraut, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, found that the more people used the Web, the lonelier and more depressed they felt. After people went online for the first time, their sense of happiness and social connectedness dropped, over one to two years, as a function of how often they used the Internet.
Lonelier people weren’t inherently more likely to go online, either; a recent review of some seventy-five studies concluded that “users of Facebook do not differ in most personality traits from nonusers of Facebook.” (Nathan Heller wrote about loneliness in the magazine last year.) But, somehow, the Internet seemed to make them feel more alienated. A 2010 analysis of forty studies also confirmed the trend: Internet use had a small, significant detrimental effect on overall well-being. One experiment concluded that Facebook could even cause problems in relationships, by increasing feelings of jealousy.
But, as with most findings on Facebook, the opposite argument is equally prominent. In 2009, Sebastián Valenzuela and his colleagues came to the opposite conclusion of Kross: that using Facebook makes us happier. They also found that it increases social trust and engagement—and even encourages political participation. Valenzuela’s findings fit neatly with what social psychologists have long known about sociality: as Matthew Lieberman argues in his book “Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect,” social networks are a way to share, and the experience of successful sharing comes with a psychological and physiological rush that is often self-reinforcing. The prevalence of social media has, as a result, fundamentally changed the way we read and watch: we think about how we’ll share something, and whom we’ll share it with, as we consume it. The mere thought of successful sharing activates our reward-processing centers, even before we’ve actually shared a single thing.
Virtual social connection can even provide a buffer against stress and pain: in a 2009 study, Lieberman and his colleagues demonstrated that a painful stimulus hurt less when a woman either held her boyfriend’s hand or looked at his picture; the pain-dulling effects of the picture were, in fact, twice as powerful as physical contact. Somehow, the element of distance and forced imagination—a mental representation in lieu of the real thing, something that the psychologists Wendi Gardner and Cindy Pickett call “social snacking”—had an anesthetic effectâ€š one we might expect to carry through to an entire network of pictures of friends.
The key to understanding why reputable studies are so starkly divided on the question of what Facebook does to our emotional state may be in simply looking at what people actually do when they’re on Facebook. “What makes it complicated is that Facebook is for lots of different things—and different people use it for different subsets of those things. Not only that, but they are also changing things, because of people themselves changing,” said Gosling.
A 2010 study from Carnegie Mellon found that, when people engaged in direct interaction with others—that is, posting on walls, messaging, or “liking” something—their feelings of bonding and general social capital increased, while their sense of loneliness decreased. But when participants simply consumed a lot of content passively, Facebook had the opposite effect, lowering their feelings of connection and increasing their sense of loneliness.
In ongoing research, the psychologist Timothy Wilson has learned, as he put it to me, that college students start going “crazy” after just a few minutes in a room without their phones or a computer. “One would think we could spend the time mentally entertaining ourselves,” he said. “But we can’t. We’ve forgotten how.” Whenever we have downtime, the Internet is an enticing, quick solution that immediately fills the gap. We get bored, look at Facebook or Twitter, and become more bored. Getting rid of Facebook wouldn’t change the fact that our attention is, more and more frequently, forgetting the path to proper, fulfilling engagement. And in that sense, Facebook isn’t the problem. It’s the symptom.
ONE day last summer, Charlie Martin felt a sharp pain in his lower back. But he couldn’t jump into his car and rush to the doctor’s office or the emergency room: Mr. Martin, a crane operator, was working on an oil rig in the South China Sea off Malaysia.
He could, though, get in touch with a doctor thousands of miles away, via two-way video. Using an electronic stethoscope that a paramedic on the rig held in place, Dr. Oscar W. Boultinghouse, an emergency medicine physician in Houston, listened to Mr. Martin’s heart.
“The extreme pain strongly suggested a kidney stone,” Dr. Boultinghouse said later. A urinalysis on the rig confirmed the diagnosis, and Mr. Martin flew to his home in Mississippi for treatment.
Mr. Martin, 32, is now back at work on the same rig, the Courageous, leased by Shell Oil. He says he is grateful he could discuss his pain by video with the doctor. “It’s a lot better than trying to describe it on a phone,” Mr. Martin says.
Spurred by health care trends and technological advances, telemedicine is growing into a mainstream industry. A fifth of Americans live in places where primary care physicians are scarce, according to government statistics. That need is converging with advances that include lower costs for video-conferencing equipment, more high-speed communications links by satellite, and greater ability to work securely and dependably over the Internet.
“The technology has improved to the point where the experience of both the doctor and patient are close to the same as in-person visits, and in some cases better,” says Dr. Kaveh Safavi, head of global health care for Cisco Systems, which is supporting trials of its own high-definition video version of telemedicine in California, Colorado and New Mexico.
The interactive telemedicine business has been growing by almost 10 percent annually, to more than $500 million in revenue in North America this year, according to Datamonitor, the market research firm. It is part of the $3.9 billion telemedicine category that includes monitoring devices in homes and hundreds of health care applications for smartphones.
“Telemedicine also makes total sense in prisons,” says Christopher Kosseff, a senior vice president and head of correctional health care at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. “It’s a wonderful way of providing ready access to specialty health care while maintaining public safety.”
What’s Next for Electronic Health Records?
Google Health came on the scene back in 2008 with ambitious plans to revolutionize the way health records are stored and transferred. Patients could log on to the system and upload their personal records, consolidating them into centralized health profile that was easily accessible. Building and promoting Google Health was a huge undertaking. Unfortunately, it fell short of Google’s plans and expectations.
In a recent blog post, Google announced it would be pulling the plug on Google Health and that they’d be shutting down the platform completely by January, 2011. Aaron Brown, Senior Product Manager for Google Health, expressed his disappointment, admitting that, “Google Health is not having the broad impact we had hoped it would.”
Google Health has been discontinued - Google Health has been permanently discontinued. All data remaining in Google Health user accounts as of January 2, 2013 is being systematically destroyed, and Google is no longer able to recover any Google Health data for any user. To learn more about this announcement, see our blog post, or answers to frequently-asked questions below.
So what does this mean for electronic health records? Where do we go from here?
To answer that question, we need to look at the primary reason for Google Health’s failure – a lack of early adopters. The platform simply didn’t grow at the pace they’d expected. However, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t being utilized, and it doesn’t mean other platforms won’t succeed.
Industry analysts and experts are quick to acknowledge that personal health records, unlike some other health industry innovations, are driven by individual motivation and effort. Simply having the platform isn’t enough. You have to have individuals willing to log on, input their data, and use the platform for its intended purpose. While Google struggled getting early adopters, the trend is clear: the government, hospitals, doctors and patients are all slowly warming up to the idea of electronic records. Each year, electronic health record platforms are growing. Each year, new applications – like the OnPatient iPad app – are being developed that further digitize the healthcare process. While Google’s failure was disappointing, there’s no question that electronic health records are going to become adopted on a large scale – it’s just a matter of time.
Online relationships are not much different from offline relationships. They both require two essential attributes: trust and communication. Trust needs communication as re-enforcement; communication needs trust as its validation. If either is missing or lacking in quality, the relationship may become endangered.
Online relationships work just as fine as offline relationships. However, they need more attention. One cannot allow too much time to lapse before communicating with the relationship partner. If a partner allows too much time to lapse, that partner also allows room for the other partner to begin to worry. Problems begin from errors in communication.
For instance, social media dating is a type of online relationship. Social media sites offer several ways to share information and personal media. If a partner shares something personal with the partner's Facebook friends -- without the other partner's permission -- it could result in conflict. On April 25, 2012, in a New York Times article entitled, "'What Were You Thinking?' For Couples. New Source on Online Friction"Laura M. Holson stated something similar:
"If one half of a couple is not interested in broadcasting the details of a botched dinner or romantic weekend, Facebook posting or tweeting can create irritation, embarrassment and bruised egos."
The topic correlates with trust and communication. One partner may trust the other not to share such information; however, with a lack of proper communication, the information could be shared and that partner's trust tornished. Online relationships are delicate situations. If possible, ensure one's partner has no reason to become insecure about the relationship. Be open and honest about your online dating endeavors. Start keeping secrets, and one's partner may begin as well.
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