Photo credits: A couple in Beijing are focussed on their phones as their intimate connection to their community. Photo by Wang Lei

Learning from social media in Beijing

| Tags: Creativity, Sustainability, World

With photographer Lei Wang we explored the impact of mobile social media in China. Lei emerged with a simple question; “Is social media enabling community but increasing loneliness in the city?” 

The work was sponsored by Cheil for Samsung as part of their study on the culture of smartphones. 

The question has become more pressing as social technologies have proliferated. The benefits are incredible but the dangers, or the inadequacies, of these technologies are becoming more apparent.

“Loneliness has been a growing problem for decades—with some estimating that 61 percent of adults in the United States feel it.” – Scientific American.

Research at The University of Pennsylvania in 2018 observed:

“Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”

Does social media cause loneliness? Or do the algorithms leverage loneliness to the advantage of advertisers? These questions are becoming more relevant as the impact of the social media revolution is felt.

Wang Lei’s question, his creative insight was a valuable start in an important conversation.