Do Social Media Destroy Human Relationships?

This was the question debated at a recent AEI event, pitting DC economics professor and food blogger Tyler Cowen against British philosopher Roger Scruton.

Part of Scruton’s argument involved drawing a parallel with pornography: just as, in his view, pornography tends to become a substitute for real romantic love, interacting with “friends” on social media becomes a substitute for real, meaningful, effort-ful offline relationships.

The debate ended with Cowen telling Scruton, essentially: “You’re so very wrong, but I’m glad you’re here to voice your mistaken opinions.” In other words, we shouldn’t accept any social trend without questioning it, but in this case there’s no need to fret.

To me, it all comes down to choice: social media aren’t inherently bad for us; they become bad by virtue of how we use them (to stalk, spy, and hide, or to connect, learn, and share).


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