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Is Social Media Bad for Relationships: Argumentative Essay

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Alienation is isolation and estrangement from yourself and/or others. This stems from the theories established by Emile Durkheim (1952) and in particular Karl Marx (1844), who argued that capitalism led to the “self-estrangement of man” due to the alienation humans experience from their labor (Marx, 1844). Although the main ideas are still highly relevant and applicable in modern society, alienation has changed from more labor based to a more contemporary sense of social alienation. In saying that, the recent evolution of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has not contributed to our contemporary sense of social alienation, and in some instances has led to a reduction in alienation experienced by individuals. This is due to social media’s ability to help form and preserve relationships, as well as give people the opportunity to express themselves and their opinions, leading to strengthened connections with themselves and people of society.

Alienation can lead to individuals feeling isolated and estranged from others. Social media provides a platform for people to formulate and sustain relationships, thus leading to an individual feeling less alienated. A recent study undergone by Wang and Edwards (2016), looked to understand the use of social media tools among teenagers when socializing and building relationships (Wang & Edwards, 2016). The authors claim that social media is a ‘phatic technology’, being a technology that is used to “establish, develop and maintain human relationships” (Malinowski, 1923). Their experiment validated this, determining that the majority of people surveyed use social media to “welcome (75%), build (64%) and explore (58%)” (Wang & Edwards, 2016 p1212) relationships with other people. This concluded that social media is identifiable as phatic technology and is used as a source of relationship building and management (Wang & Edwards, 2016). In this way, social media can help people feel less alienated from their surroundings. It can lead to less isolation and estrangement from other people by forming relationships and giving people a greater sense of belonging in their community. Social media not only helps establish relationships, but it can assist in building and exploring them, making the relationship stronger and more meaningful. As a result, social media does not contribute to our contemporary sense of social alienation, through the growing interactions and connections with other people.

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Alienation can stem from a situation or environment where individual control and power are lost, leading to an inability to express yourself. Social media can be a tool used by one to express themselves and their opinions. In his manuscript “Estranged Labour”, Marx (1844) detailed the “alienation of labor” and the way by which the worker is “estranged of the thing”, which is the object the labor produces (Marx, 1844). This is due to the worker’s need for labor in order to sustain themselves, the worker becomes powerless, and “a servant to his object” (Marx, 1944). This loss of control and power results in the worker feeling alienated. Marx’s views have proved influential in further understanding our contemporary sense of alienation, particularly in a social setting. As is from an economic production point of view, the loss of control and power in a social setting would similarly lead to a feeling of isolation and alienation. However, the evolution of social media platforms for one to express themselves and their opinion has instead given people power and control in their lives. The ability for anyone to press for social change presents normal people with a perception of power to influence the world. This results in people feeling less alienated, due to the freedom they possess. In addition, the ability for people to express themselves could lead to increased social regulation and moral guidance. Emile Durkheim’s (1952) journal on anomie, being a lack of social regulation as a result of the ‘great transformation”, raised the question of society’s moral values (Durkheim, 1952). Due to a lack of these moral values, Durkheim (1952) explains that this results in anomic suicides occurring. However, as a result of the growth of social media, all of society has the opportunity to have their say and express their opinion. This can lead to an increase in social regulation and moral guidance to help regulate what is considered the norm in society and what isn’t, due to greater input from lots of people. Social media, therefore, has the capability to allow individuals to express themselves as well as shape societal values, all of which contribute to the reduction in alienation.

Social media may be highly exploitive; however, this does not mean it is alienating, and can even lead to user de-alienation. The Marxist (1844) themes of exploitation and alienation have often gone hand in hand, with the “alienation of labor” caused by the exploitation of the worker, “in which the worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates” (Marx, 1844). This reduction of human identity to a mere “commodity”, shows how the workers are alienated completely from their “species being” or humanity. However, scholar Eran Fisher (2012) argued that while “social media allows for the expansion and intensification of exploitation” (Fisher, 2012 p171), it simultaneously reduces alienation among its users. In a case study involving Facebook, Fisher explained that the labor exploitation apparent in capitalist societies is similar to social media, where “the media itself, i.e., the platform (wages) is exchanged for the audience work of communicating and socializing (labor)” (Fisher, 2012 p181). By users socializing and revealing information about themselves, they risk being exploited by companies to which the information is extremely valuable to. Alienation however is not a byproduct in this case, as in order for exploitation to occur on social media, the users must be “actively engaged in the production of content” (Fisher, 2012). P J Rey (2012) explains that this is in fact the case, with “users willing, even eager, to participate in activities that profit companies” (Rey, 2012 p 416). As a result, users are seen to express themselves more, communicate with others, and have overall engagement with the social medium.

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Is Social Media Bad for Relationships: Argumentative Essay. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
“Is Social Media Bad for Relationships: Argumentative Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Is Social Media Bad for Relationships: Argumentative Essay. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Sept. 2023].
Is Social Media Bad for Relationships: Argumentative Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 Sept 29]. Available from:
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