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In Threads’ dwindling engagement, social media’s flawed hypothesis is laid bare

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  1. Amun
    Rimma Boshernitsan For too long, social media platforms have been operating as if connectivity provides the same fulfillment as human connection. Social connection has been on the decline for...

    Rimma Boshernitsan

    Merely weeks after emerging as the apparent heir to address social media’s woes and generating over 100 million users in less than five days, Threads is reported to have dropped 80% in daily active users since launch.

    Just recently, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Threads would be introducing “retention hooks” to keep users on the platform after nearly half of them left in the weeks following its launch.

    For too long, social media platforms have been operating as if connectivity provides the same fulfillment as human connection.

    The early days of social media..galvanized us all with a childlike wonder — asking us to imagine how the other side of the world could be a single swipe away; how we might reconnect with childhood friends and meet strangers who would become lifelong ones.

    Rather than forging or maintaining relationships as they set out to do, social media platforms became focused on becoming the “global town square” — not just of communication and connection, but also of consumption via e-commerce and shared knowledge fueled by social echo chambers.

    Overnight, we began nourishing our brains with seemingly endless timelines of information and developing a dependency on social platforms that reduced our dependency on the communities around us. It’s no wonder we’re facing a loneliness epidemic.

    Social connection has been on the decline for decades — but now it seems to be in crisis.

    In May, the U.S. Surgeon General released a bone-chilling advisory titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” which revealed that about half of U.S. adults report experiencing measurable levels of loneliness. And consensus is, today’s digital platforms have contributed to historic levels of loneliness.

    The report reads, when technology “reduces the quality of our interactions,” it can lead to “greater loneliness” and “reduced social connection” — having the opposite intended effect of social media’s purpose.

    The phenomenon can be explained only by jargon derived from social media itself — FOMO, or fear of missing out. Rather than opening an app and feeling immediately connected to our friends and followers, the instant ability to check in on the lives of others introduced greater anxiety and fear of social exclusion into our daily lives.

    But FOMO isn’t a glib saying; it’s rooted in science: New findings suggest that people who use social media for more than two hours a day are twice as likely to report feeling socially isolated compared to those who use it for less than 30 minutes per day.

    We’re reminded again that connectivity can’t guarantee or substitute real, human connection. In fact, it may just do the opposite by making the need feel all the more glaring.

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