Add to the arguments about whether social media is "really" social or not: this new study by University of Berlin's Fenne große Deters and Arizona State's Matthias R. Mehl, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science:
Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment
Online social networking is a pervasive but empirically understudied phenomenon. Strong public opinions on its consequences exist but are backed up by little empirical evidence and almost no causally conclusive, experimental research. The current study tested the psychological effects of posting status updates on Facebook using an experimental design. For 1 week, participants in the experimental condition were asked to post more than they usually do, whereas participants in the control condition received no instructions. Participants added a lab “Research Profile” as a Facebook friend allowing for the objective documentation of protocol compliance, participants’ status updates, and friends’ responses. Results revealed (1) that the experimentally induced increase in status updating activity reduced loneliness, (2) that the decrease in loneliness was due to participants feeling more connected to their friends on a daily basis, and (3) that the effect of posting on loneliness was independent of direct social feedback (i.e., responses) by friends.
What's interesting to me is that participants who posted more reported feeling more connected and less lonely, independent of whether friends responded. I'm not quite sure what to make of that.