Friday, November 9, 2012

Are you addicted to Social Media?


SAJ Shirazi

Photo: mancunian matters
Social media addiction is a disease affecting millions, but one that’s hard to track because it comes in many forms. The afflicted may reveal themselves as serial likers. They may self-identify as “geeks,” “gurus” or “social problem slovers.”

Some people are so addicted to their social networks that they’d rather leave actual friends than surrender their social media activities. The reason? Fear of being left out of the main stream.

I know a social media addict who has more than one social networking profiles and is a member of so many groups always keep an eye on his social networks because he says, “I don’t want to miss something such as who is befriending whom or an important event like birth dates of friends and friends of friends or status update.” He is administrator in different groups and plays a role of ‘matchmaker’ suggesting one to another and making like minded people to meet.

The worst cases are teens whose parents are not computer literate (and keep thinking their kids busy doing school work on computers) while the kids actually may be busy proving the world as Facbook dudes or twitter queens. Then there are house wives (whose husbands are computer illiterate or are not interested in computers and online world) who log on social media platforms the moment husbands leave for work and stay there till they come back. There are males who ‘keep working’ while their wives are busy housekeeping and raring kids. Addictive urges force all these categories to do anything to be online.

For most people, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are harmless platforms that allow for social interaction and personal expression (LOL, many of us still think so). For others, social media has become more than an entertaining form of engagement; it has become an increasing compulsion.

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The question is – can a person really become addicted to social media?

Photo: Thought Pick
This is a notion that psychologists and researchers are beginning to address, and recent studies suggest that yes, this may be a serious opportunity for addiction. One study recently conducted found social media to be even more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. Addictions are about feeding a compelling urge, and one of the greatest human urges is the yearning to feel belonged. Nothing satisfies this particular urge like logging on and being social with the masses at any hour of the day or night. Desires for social media are difficult to control because of the easy access availability of it, and because giving in to these social urges seems far less harmful than giving into other addictions. Another interesting finding in the research was the correlation between low self-esteem and social network addiction. Being social online is easier for people who suffer from self-esteem issues, and within this group, an addiction to sites like Facebook and Twitter is much more easily formed.

As a blogger who tweets his blog posts, I am acutely aware of the benefits of social media. My Twitter is connected to my Facebook, I carry a BlackBerry and when I am out of the office I am often obsessed and keep checking my Twitter and Facebook news feeds. Still my informed suggestion to friends is, not an easy task for those who may have pinned all their hopes there – please change your social media priorities and allign them with actual life.

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