Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 195–210 | Cite as

Social Media, Love, and Sartre’s Look of the Other: Why Online Communication Is Not Fulfilling

  • Michael Stephen LopatoEmail author
Research Article


We live in a world which is more connected than ever before. We can now send messages to a friend or colleague with a touch of a button, can learn about other’s interests before we even meet them, and now leave a digital trail behind us—whether we intend to or not. One question which, in proportion to its importance, has been asked quite infrequently since the dawn of the Internet era involves exactly how meaningful all of these connections are. To what extent can we love another if we only communicate via social technology? What value does visiting a friend have which e-mailing him or texting him does not? “Social Media, Love, and the Look of the Other” attempts to answer these questions by applying the framework of social communication established by Jean-Paul Sartre to the realm of social media. Sartre writes that in all communications with the other, we face the look of the other—or our own perception of how the other judges us. The direction in which the look points determines, to a large degree, the character of any interaction with others. How does social media affect the nature of this look? Particularly, this inquiry seeks to discover the nature of the object to which this look points—and what implications, in cases where the look is not directed at ourselves, this has on our ability to develop and share concern for others.


Social media Internet Jean-Paul Sartre The look of the other Existentialism Ethics 


Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no competing interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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