Social media addiction is not a regular clinical diagnosis, it is right to say that many people waste far too much time on social media and may portray themselves as being “obsessed”, if not addicted. Lately, the mental health area has become more interested in the influence that modern technology has on our lives – both positive and negative. On the positive side, technologies such as Skype, Instagram, and Facebook enable us to stay in contact with family and friends though we are far away. Yet, unfortunately, people waste hours every day updating their Instagram stories, uploading pictures, commenting on posts, mindlessly scrolling through the feed, reading updates from others, and searching for new buddies to add.
But are we truly connected? Let’s go through a few questions before starting the discussion.
- Do you get upset when someone replies late to your messages?
- Do you get upset when your bae or boo forgot to send you a good morning or good night text kiss?
- You miss your food time because you busy watching some Netflix series!
- Do you get disappointed by seeing only blue ticks and no replies?
- Ever took a pause of 5 minutes to reply to a message to not sound creepy or needy?
- Do you delete your long messages filled with emotions and feelings or cut short, to not look desperate or weak?
- Are you afraid of calling someone and instead choose to text them? Because it puts you in an uncomfortable situation.
- Maybe, you broke up recently or a few months back since chats created more misunderstanding’s in your relationship?
These are signs of being addicted to social media.
How one gets addicted to social media?
- People have the tendency to check social media as often as they can because of the psychological effects it has on the brain. If a user is feeling distressed, social media can release dopamine into the brain, and they eventually find themselves addicted to it. Harris refers to this as a “digital pacifier” in the film. The dependence on technology in this way can lead to the failure to properly deal with emotions because it reduces the development of one’s frontal cortex.
- The release of dopamine makes technology work like addictive drugs, such as alcohol or nicotine.
The average person checks their phone 52 times a day and somehow we have allowed social media to decide how we feel about ourselves. It affects our moods, our habits, it even can seal the fate of relationships. Because one in three couples break up over social media disagreements. In the social dilemma on Netflix, you must have seen how media uses algorithms to share with us more of what we already seem to like.
In light of this, we get more dopamine when we get more likes. You see addiction is classified as anything that moves you away from a bad feeling into a good feeling. Moreover, it is very easy to get addicted to likes, hits, and comments. But what’s happening all the time is you’re forming a relationship with people on your screen. So social media has great benefits. I see people speaking to their grandchildren on the other side of the world and finding that immensely useful’ and it is, but there is a huge downside. You have 100’s of Facebook friends, Instagram followers but none of them is turning up when you’re feeling bad. And if you shop only on social media, you miss out on that connection of shopping with a friend, interacting with a shopkeeper, going for a coffee.
The true problem of today’s society is loneliness pandemic. We live in big buildings, we have so many flats, so many people around us. We live in this world where we are separated by a lot of people. On social media, we have hundreds, thousands of friends. I have more than 1000 friends on Facebook (not a single one I interact with). Some of us have millions of followers on Instagram. We live in a world of bite-sized communication. People usually put their best face on social media, which isn’t true.
We put on fake masks to impress others – Social media addiction
It is so much easier to polish what you can say when you don’t say it directly, rather than recording a message or write a text. In the same way, it is so much easier to put up a nice facade when you have a technology screen between you and the audience. So much easier to hide. Hide behind a mask. In fact, we have learned to disconnect from others. We have started calling rather, than dropping in for a visit. Moreover, we have started texting rather, than calling. Similarly, we have started posting for our followers, rather than staying in touch.
Our obsession with reach has lead to many problems
We are so obsessed with our reach, that we have unlearned to connect. This is a sign of social media addiction. Research shows that the number one killer in society is social isolation and loneliness. I am a space admin at Quora. Most of the questions I come across are,
- Why do we feel alone even though we are connected to each other by technology?
- I feel very alone almost every time, but there is no best friend with whom I can share everything. How can I solve this problem?
- Whenever I turn on my internet, I don’t get any Whatsapp notification. No one is there to talk with me and sometimes I feel like crying. What should I do?
It has changed our lifestyle – Social Media Addiction facts
The small devices don’t only change what we do but also changes what we areSherry Turkle
‘Before it was, I have a feeling I want to make a call. Now it is, I want to have a feeling, I need to send a text’. We all sit together to be more apart from each other. Sherry Turkle in her book ‘Alone together‘ says, we expect more from technology and less from each other. What’s the problem with the real-life conversation? It takes place in real-time and you can’t control what you say. Texting, emailing, posting all of these things let us present ourselves, how we want to. We can edit, we get to retouch, we get to delete.
Therefore, we really need to look at the downside of social media. It isolates you, it disconnects you. It shows you a false world. In light of this, you’re forming relationships on a screen. You’re talking to people on a screen and maybe never meeting them.
I’m always amazed that people spend hours talking to someone that they never meet.”I’ve got this virtual boyfriend, virtual girlfriend.” I have these virtual friends I have never met them.” I met someone recently he told me that he had a girlfriend for three years and he never met here. Because, she was always busy and he too was busy. I’m like, “you know what?” That is not a relationship. Which is not good.
One is exposed to a fake world every day
Yes, people like you when you show them a picture that you have digitally altered, but they don’t like really you. They like something fake that you have shown them.
Every day, we are exposed to false images of perfection and that is causing a massive rise in self-harm. It’s causing a huge rise in eating disorders. Because we see people and say, “well their body’s perfect, they just had a baby, and look there are in a bikini looking amazing.” “It’s not real, that is either a photoshopped image or that person is a celebrity who spends most of their time in gym and parlor and have got nannies to look after their baby. So what social media does is, first of all, it makes you feel good, “Oh look how many likes I’ve got,” and then it makes you feel disappointed, “Oh I haven’t got likes.” I can’t compare myself. All the other people around have a better home, a better body, a better child, a better career. And it actually makes you feel disappointed with yourself.
I may say, I am thinking about you, I have started liking you. But, you never know the emotions associated with those texts. You can’t express your emotions through technology. Even though you feel like crying, you are angry, you are upset, you end up sending a smiley emoji ☺ to sound friendly. ‘We sleep thinking always being connected would make us less alone, but we are at risk.’ The opposite is true. ‘If we are not able to be alone, we are going to be lonely.’ If you cannot be alone without your phone then it is a sign of social media addiction.
If we don’t teach our children how to be alone, they will only know how to be lonely- Sherry TurkleTweet
Dealing with social media addiction #1st key takeaway
Firstly, take a look at how much time you spend on social media. And then say,” Hey, what did I get from this?” For instance, I could read a book and go.
“Did I learn anything?” Actually, that book was a waste of my time. That movie I sat through I didn’t learn anything from it. Didn’t even entertain me. I stuck it out till the end, but it wasn’t impressive. Whenever you are on social media, ask yourself these questions.
- What did I learn?
- How is this benefitting me?
- Is this helping me grow?
- Do I feel good?
- And is it a feeling that’s going to last?
- Am I forming real relationships with real people?
Go for a social media detox #2nd key takeaway
I have already written an awesome article that will guide you through a proper and planned social media detox.
Benefits of social media detox
Limit your use on social media by properly defining it #3rd key takeaway
The problem is not with social media. The problem is how we define it, prioritize it, and use it. Convenience has made us lazy. This has lead to social media addiction. More likes = more self-esteem. This is how we define ourselves. Your worth is based on how many comments you get. We have reduced our vocabulary. Example: omg, lol, wtf (what the face), haha.
Are we using social media to benefit society? Is someone profiting from your posts? Or are you using it to post your dog pictures which nobody likes?
What I personally recommend is keeping no gaps while texting. You see a notification, you reply right away. (allot a time for texting, doesn’t mean you sit like a fool texting the whole day) Have something worthwhile to do in life. You see someone commented on your post, reply to them right away. Let them know they are associating with humans and not with a person displaying a fake facade. Try calling more than texting. Try meeting more people than calling (wait, don’t not be in a hurry now, lockdown is going on)
I think we all lived better if we had hands to hold, rather than keys to click – Allison GrahamTweet
Social media doesn’t give you real-life warm hugs, hot soups, coffees. Now, the time is to prioritize real-life connections. It will suck at first. But the more you make yourself vulnerable, the more people will understand and connect with you.
So rather than getting influenced by high profile celebrity’s life just keep in mind this one thing.
Spending time on social media – “you gonna fetch nothing.”
Lastly, what do you do to maintain real life connections during the pandemic ?
Let me know in the comments.
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