Addicted to social media

30 January 2019 | Columns


Notifications are triggers that sell you on the need to check out your news feed. What you read is hardly of any relevance but you keep scrolling regardless, thinking you may miss out on something if you skip the depraved experience of social media that has seriously got you hooked.

By the time you have finished scrolling you have been occupied for 30 minutes or an hour, time that could have been spent attending to what your employer actually pays you to do.

The virtual experience of social media functions as a reward system of likes, comments and shares.

Showcasing a quintessential version of ourselves, we rely on the external validation of our peers by posting how good we feel about our newfound love for exercise and how much weight we've lost. Breakfast in bed, with the proverbial self-indulgence of eggs, bacon, crisp toast and freshly squeezed orange juice appeases our followers.

A picture speaks a thousand words and the effort it takes to wake up, prepare the perfect English breakfast, get back into bed and have your significant other snap the perfect pic for you to upload onto your account, just in time for your audience's morning scrolls, speaks of an underlying need for relevance, significance, affirmation and a connection with others - a connection we crave but certainly cannot get from our virtual existence on Facebook.

That is why we can never be satisfied and we keep coming back for more and more to fill this void of loneliness, boredom and frustration. A habit then becomes a compulsion and eventually an addiction.

The dark spiral of addiction reveals our most sadistic and narcissistic character traits.

We compare ourselves to others by tallying the amount of likes or comments our status updates generate. We value subconscious confrontation because it makes us feel powerful; we're superior because we always come out on top. As our likes begin to dwindle, we become aggressive, edgy or downright outrageous - an attention-grabber - which is a justified response to the attention economy.

It is easier said than done, deleting our Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts, as cold turkey plunges us into withdrawal, characterised by anxiety, the feeling of missing out, not being part of the in-crowd, desolation and despondency, requiring a quick-fix attainable by simply logging on.

Ask a born-free whose phone has been confiscated by their parents and wait for an honest response beyond the tirade of their right to use their property as they see fit.

It's real; being separated from your Instagram can really leave you feeling doom and gloom.

Parents are warned that separating your kids from their phones can lead to a separation of your kids from you. They will not speak to you and the parent/child bond will suffer.

Addiction to social media is real. It has a set of symptoms, causes and effects.

The diagnosis is somewhat obscure because it is relatively a new field of inquiry, but science might soon come up with an effective treatment programme, so do not despair.

If you want to know whether you are showing symptoms of addiction to social media ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you crave for social media?

2. Have you tried to quit social media but couldn't?

3. Have you ever been inconvenienced by your use of social media?

4. Has social media caused you to neglect your friends, family and loved ones?

If you have answered yes to all four of these questions, you are definitely a drama queen.

Whether you are addicted to social media or not requires diagnosis from a trained professional. Google one in your hometown and make that appointment.

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