Is Social Media taking over your life?

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Illustration By Frits
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We all know that too much of a good thing is bad for you, that family size bag of crisps you ate all yourself, that last cigarette before you give up and that 10 more minutes  on Facebook when you should have gone to bed 2 hours ago!

The media recently reported how a Bolton Footballer has had his phone taken away by his team  to help the young footballer curb his Twitter and Facebook addiction.

When I first heard this I was a bit surprised that a football team would go as far as taking a team members mobile phone away from them as if they were a child but also this person was addicted to the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Seriously?

The footballer in question is 23, the team’s manager ‘…believes the addiction is linked to homesickness. ‘

Wikipedia’s definition of addiction includes;

…is the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse dependency consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviours. Classic hallmarks of addiction include: impaired control over substances/behavior, preoccupation with substance/behavior, continued use despite consequences, and denial.

Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterised by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs). Physiological dependence occurs when the body has to adjust to the substance by incorporating the substance into its ‘normal’ functioning.

Did this footballer display these traits due to prolonged use of Twitter and Facebook or is a case of the football teams Manager over reacting and using ‘feeling homesick’ to justify taking away the footballers phone?

It is easy enough to become addicted to many things so why not Social Media?

How many of us have used social media to feel good about ourselves, to fill some kind of void?

As our environment has changed so has the way we interact with each other, evolving alongside technology, we no longer have to physically see or speak to others to communicate.

Even when it comes to breaking news stories, we are more likely to turn to the various social networks for information. This was evident during natural disasters that have occurred across the world such as the New Zealand Christchurch Earthquake, Japan earthquake and tsunami, Hurricane Sandy to name a few incidents.  How much of the information broadcasted is based on facts is another matter.

What does it mean for us?

A positive, is that we are able to exchange ideas, form friendships, gather information from across the globe.

The down side is we begin to substitute our physical existence with a virtual one which threatens to take over in the form of an obsessive addiction as in the case of the footballer.

How many of you would be prepared to give up social media, go completely cold turkey?  I’m not an avid Twitter or Facebook user but do use my LinkedIn and WordPress accounts on a daily basis, viewing updates, reading blogs, viewing statistics etc and would find it difficult to give these up.

This article Social Media Addiction Based on Fear of Missing Out’  states that nearly 40% Americans who took part in the survey would rather do any of the following than give up their social networking profiles:

  • Wait in line at the DMV
  • Read “War and Peace”
  • Do their taxes
  • Give up an hour of sleep each night for a year
  • Run a marathon
  • Sit in traffic for four hours while listening to polka music
  • Get a root canal
  • Spend a night in jail
  • Clean the drains in the showers at the local gym
  • Give up their air conditioner/heater

According to the same survey the millennial generation are more likely to pick something off the above list than give up their social media profiles.

This dependence on social media is not reserved for America. A study conducted in Germany found social media to be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. A reason being that social media is now more easily accessible and seen to be more cost effective.

I don’t think it necessarily matters which generation you are from, if you have a reasonable amount of time on your hands and find your way around your network of choice you can easily become hooked!

As the German study highlighted one of the reasons behind our increase in social networking activity is due the ease of accessibility. Technology in 2013 is expected to become more integrated into our lives with the Mobile Wallet, using Twitter and Facebook to broadcast prosecution cases, social media education programmes in schools and workplaces, even Google Glass and Vuzix; mobile computer that will be available this year.

Technology coupled with Social media is making us lazy and reducing our concentration levels. Will we even know how to have a normal face to face conversation? Or will we see a wave of ‘celebrities’ checking themselves into ‘digital addiction clinics’, will it be cited in divorce proceedings as the cause for a marriage to breakdown? The last one was an exaggeration but watch out for the digital addiction clinics coming to a place near you. The clinics will involve ‘rural retreats or sessions to relearn the art of conversation without interruption, hesitation or deviation.’, or glorified camping.

So do we embrace this digital / social media evolution or run for the hills to our hideaways with terrestrial analog televisions, dial up internet and land line telephones?

Think you’re not addicted to social media? 12 signs you’re addicted to social media. 😉

References

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/social-media-hurricane-sandy-emergency-planners

http://news.discovery.com/tech/social-media-addictive-120204.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/bolton-wanderers/9786281/Bolton-Wanderers-manager-Dougie-Freedman-reveals-Marvin-Sordells-Twitter-obsession.html

http://www.communicatto.com/2012/07/26/breaking-more-and-more-people-are-turning-to-social-media-for-the-news/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20813371

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