One of the criticisms non-users heap on social media is the preconceived notion that heavy users of social networks “put too much out there” and that contacts via the services aren’t “real” friends.
But a new infographic based on Pew research shows that social media may support and even cultivate real life relationships. Among the variables included was trust- something far more abundant in users of social media than the unconnected public. While 27% of the less connected told researchers they felt people were good and trustworthy, that number shot up to 46% for users of social media.
“But they’re strangers,” people might say, “who knows what these people are like?” Apparently, social media users. On Facebook, far from a network of random contacts, people know a full 90% of their friends list in real life. Another 3% of people on friends lists have met the study participants in meatspace, leaving only 7% random contacts on the lists of those surveyed.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, LinkedIn users are the most politically active, and social networks in general are ladies’ nights, with a 56% XX-chromosome bent on social networks. One of the more interesting stats was about social isolation- bucking the stereotype of the lonely loser behind a laptop, social media users were significantly less lonely then their Facebook-abstaining counterparts.
The infographic below illustrates some of the stats collected in the study. In your own use of social networks (or abstention), have you found the research findings to bear out? Have you connected with the people in your life more meaningfully since you adopted Facebook, Twitter or other networks?