Smart people who research stuff for a living have observed that the lonely and rejected perk up when discussing their favorite TV characters and shows, according to this article. I recommend reading the full piece, but here are a few nuggets:
• “[The research] supports the “social surrogacy hypothesis,” where technology provides a sense of social belonging when real social connections are lacking.”
• “… taken together, four new studies indicate that even relationships with nonexistent fictional characters can affect people in very real ways.”
• “Students who spent time thinking about favorite TV programs seemed protected against drops in self-esteem and increases in negative mood.”
For me, a couple of observations come to mind. First, isn’t it ironic that while watching TV may help assuage feelings of loneliness in the short-term, watching TV won’t actually help you form the kinds of social relationships and connections that tend to provide a long-term remedy for loneliness? Isn’t that like saying a new study finds that comfort food helps put our minds at ease when we get stressed about weight or fitness level? Second, how should the Church respond to these kinds of findings? Make more of an effort to befriend and show love to lonely people? Make an effort to create compelling TV characters, knowing that people are going to connect to them? What do you think?