Social media – means of communication, self-portrayal tool and trigger for collective emotions – The best examples are the reactions to the death of basketball star Kobe Bryant. However, if used incorrectly, they promote loneliness. How to do it right?

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Use online communication correctly or be lonely together?

No doubt that Internet leads to selective perception and thus strengthens our tunnel vision. As a result, we sometimes defy ourselves Society terribly lonely feel. We are lonely together, so to speak – one Term, which the American psychoanalyst and sociologistProfessorin Sherry Turkle.

The point is that many People tend to complicated interpersonal relationships through easy-care Online-Replacing relationships: Those who cannot resist this temptation become increasingly lonely, Turkle notes. Sounds dramatic. But if you learn to use the right communication channel at the right moment, you will benefit from the diverse possibilities of the mobile Internet.

Common emotion processing using the example of Kobe Bryant

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The extent to which the emergence and processing of emotions is subject to communication behavior on the Internet is shown whenever something particularly tragic and dramatic happens and the general sympathy is huge - be it terrorist attacks or the death of individual celebrities. And these emotional mechanisms are also cleverly exploited by media producers of all kinds awareness to create.

A good example of this was the death of basketball star Kobe Bryant and his thirty-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles in January 2020. The death of the sports icon caused shock waves of sports fans in the United States, but it extended from Kenya to China. Because Kobe Bryant was even better known around the world and perhaps even more influential than Michael Jordan - in some circles he was considered the greatest NBA player of all time.

How does collective grief express itself?

Joseph Hammond, a freelance journalist who has contributed to The Economist, Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown (CNN), US News and World Report, International Business Times and numerous other publications wrote about Bryant's notoriety and lists some details of the worldwide sympathy:

“The Los Angeles Lakers to planto erect a statue of Kobe Bryant in Star Plaza, an area in front of the Staples Center where the figurines of many Laker greats stand. A statue of Kobe in his Laker uniform already stands in front of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts Sculpture Museum in China. Along with native Yao Ming, Kobe Bryant played a pivotal role in opening up China to the NBA. Kobe's death was also deeply mourned in Africa. Kobe Bryant was just beginning the cell phoneRevolution in Africa and is in many ways the face of basketball on the continent. 'Africa is largely jung, over 70% under 40,” says Cynthia Mumbo, CEO of Sports Connect Africa and former manager of the Kenyan Women- National basketball team, in an interview with the author. Many of us are familiar with the NBASALE or an NBA game on Sunday. Kobe was a big part of those games... Most games were Lakers, Bulls, Magic games. The NBA is an important part of the games and when Kobe was with the Lakers we had so many with his image. I think we're going to see a lot this week too.' "

Creeping loneliness through mobile internet?

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Back to Sherry Turkle, who has been researching the effects of modern technical development on our lives for over 30 years - initially euphoric, as she says, then increasingly critical, since she has noticed the rapid changes that an Internet brings that we always have in our pockets could carry around. In her book “Alone Together”, she warns of the creeping loneliness that communicative changes can bring.

Because the Internet, especially in the mobile version for Hand– or trouser pocket, would always offer the possibility of escaping the complex interpersonal relationships of reality – like the student who would readily exchange her boyfriend for a robot as a lover in order to get the Welt easier and better to do. Or like colleagues who eMails or send a text message to the neighboring office because it would be too intimate for you to simply drop in there.

The internet is changing interpersonal relationships

Important information and emotions that are conveyed in a telephone call or in person Conversation would be exchanged with, were missing - and that's exactly what changes not only Communicationbut interpersonal relationships as a whole. So says Turkle in an interview ZEIT ONLINE:

“You can have other relationships online. In a way, people reveal more of themselves. But they reveal what they want to reveal, not necessarily what the other wants to know! In a face-to-face friendship, a real exchange takes place. I've been investigating such chats since the early XNUMXs, and you know what: when things get uncomfortable, people pinch. There is much less commitment in relationships. ”

Now Turkle may be right about the fact that social relationships on the Internet take place differently, namely more superficially, and that for some people there is a risk of losing touch with reality if they get too involved in it. The medic Shima Sum from the University In a 2008 study among seniors, Sidney also showed that existing lonliness can only be fought very poorly with social media, chats, forums and private messages. On the contrary: once the isolation in real life makes its way into the virtual social network, the lack of real friends tends to increase.

Don't confuse online intimacy with real intimacy

However, online intimacy should not be confused with real intimacy. And, of course, text messages on the Internet are more convenient than phone calls or face-to-face conversations. Because online communication makes it possible to communicate with a large number of people in Contact to stand and this at the same time more Distance than would be possible, for example, with a telephone call where we have to be present in person and they voice – and the associated emotions – of the other person.

However, I cannot see what is wrong with the use of online communication. On the contrary, to be able to work efficiently, this filtering is even essential. Especially since Turkle also says about himself that eMails are also your most important communication channel.

Your own controlled image in public

And many celebrities also use social media regularly to convey an image of themselves to the public that they themselves check can. The journalist Joseph Hammond also explains that the reason for Bryant's admiration had a lot to do with his own open communication behavior:

“His role as a citizen ambassador started early. Kobe Bryant's father, Joe 'Jelly Bean' Bryant, wanted his son to gain international recognition. Kobe was named after the famous Japanese beef his parents saw on a menu. Some of Kobe's formative years were spent in Italy, where he first used number 8 jerseys. His father played after the end of his NBACareer In an Italian league for seven years in 1983. Young Kobe Bryant soon learned Italian and, late in his career, occasionally impressed guest reporters by speaking Ask answered in Italian. Certainly, Bryant's journey to global stardom was in the interests of Bryant and the NBA, but it also sprang from a legitimate interest in other people and cultures. Thousands of American children grew up in Italy like Bryant—very few of them came to learn Italian. Indeed, while in Los Angeles, Bryant also learned to converse in Spanish - much to the delight of his Latino fans in Los Angeles and a skill that increased his marketability in the Spanish-speaking world. Bryant also learned some Serbian and French to confuse opposing players or encourage teammates."

Those who know the rules benefit from several communication channels

This is also shown by a Dutch study by Patti M. Valkenburg and Jochen Peter: According to this, social media are excellent means of maintaining an existing circle of acquaintances and presenting oneself to the outside world. So you have to differentiate. On the one hand for the reasons how and why you use social media, but also for who you communicate with and why. Because of course there is a risk that you will lose your inner Schweinehund gives in and lazily sits at home instead of meeting people in person. But condemning the Internet for this, as is happening in the current discussion about Internet addiction, seems to me to be the wrong approach.

And while most people in real life often know exactly who is a friend, colleague, good acquaintance or enemy, it is precisely this distinction that seems to confuse many people in social networks. I always notice that when people, who normally don't meet everyone for a beer, ask me uncertainly, “What do I do when I'm at Facebook get a friend request from someone I don't want as a friend? " The reason for the confusion is that communication in digital spaces is public, but often somehow personal.

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