Social media addiction is not a very popular topic, is it?
Is it surprising that most people are addicted to social media but don’t even know it?
Let’s have a quick reflection. Do you log into social media platforms to clear up your mind whenever you are feeling restless, guilty, disturbed, lonely, bored, or just to avoid confronting those personal problems?
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change” – Eckhart Tolle
Just a few more deep reflections, do you feel a sense of deep satisfaction and pleasure when your picture or video updates get several likes and attention on Instagram, Facebook etc.? If yes, then you might be going through a mood modification, which is a core sign of social media addiction.
If that is too remote, then do you feel a compulsive need or desire to log into a social media site at any given opportunity and then feel bad or irritated if you can’t (withdraw)? If yes, then you are an addict or on a journey to becoming one.
Looking at the figures
According to figures, there are about 4.57 billion active internet users, which represents about 59 percent of the world’s population; with about 3.81 active social media users, representing 49 percent of the world’s population.
As of the first quarter of 2020, Facebook has active users of 2.6 billion; YouTube has 2 billion, WhatsApp 1.6 billion users, WeChat clutched 1.1 billion users, and Instagram has about 1 billion active users monthly.
A global statistic also shows that people spend at least 2 hours 24 minutes daily on social media. To understand this more clearly that amounts to just over one month of social media usage out of a 12 months calendar – an entire month of your attention and remember the estimation is based on the average social media user.
Meaning of Social Media Addiction
Like every other type of addiction, social media addiction is a compulsive desire to stay connected on social media. In the event of not having access to social media, you become anxious, moody, irritated, and emotionally frustrated.
This occurs due to the pleasure associated with the release of dopamine while using social media. If you find yourself irresistibly drawn to use social media, then you are there already.
Should I quit Social Media?
That is besides the point. Quitting social media is a personal decision, but here are a few questions to consider; is it affecting your usual lifestyle? Would you rather scroll through feeds instead of exercising? Is it your way of escapism? Do you have a privacy or security concern? Do you understand the netiquette rules? I would advise that you reflect on those questions and act accordingly.
Most people who quit social media did so upon realizing the negative impacts it had on their wellbeing. That being said, social media could be used more responsibly but not without the awareness of all the concerns that comes with it.
A lot of us will deny our social media addictive behaviors and compulsiveness, or consistently say that we only go on the platforms for work purposes, or to maintain contact with friends and family. However, most of us are subconsciously addicted to social media without even knowing. Remember that being aware would help us develop the right discipline.
9 habits of a social media addict
1. You constantly and subconsciously check your phone for notification on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and the likes.
2. You get irritated and sad whenever you do not have access to the internet and will go an extra mile just to get internet connectivity.
3. Social media is your life’s diary, and you share every single detail of your life online, ranging from checking in on every location you visit to let people know where you are; posting pictures of every meal you eat and everything you achieve. You update people on all your daily activities.
4. You become jealous due to comparing your life to others – social media is becoming your new reality.
5. You become an online spy stalking and monitoring the activities of your friends, family members and even spouse and exes. Most times, you get agitated when your text messages are not promptly read and responded to.
6. You spend office or academic hours scrolling through feeds and attending to notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter etc.
7. Social media has become an integral part of your daily routines. You eat with your phone, use the toilet with your device in hand, and even wake up at midnights to check your social media notifications.
8. You are constantly using social media to escape or avoid dealing with your problems.
9. You first reach out for your phone immediately after waking up to check on your social media updates.
If you can relate to most of the aforementioned habits, then you may need to reconsider your choices and start creating the discipline you need to control your social media addictive behavior.
SOME CAUSES OF SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION
As innocent as social media interaction may appear, it is a growing concern that if not properly checked, may cause anxiety, constant mood swing, social withdrawal, depression and even suicide on rare occasions. Below are some identifiable, yet subtle causes of social media addiction.
1. Poor self-esteem: People with poor self-esteem are often prone to social media addiction. Instead of identifying the underlying causes of our poor self-esteem and seeking professional help, we use social media as a channel to escape our problems. We end up spending several hours working on online profiles and uploading pictures, hoping that would improve our self-worth.
2. Narcissistic Tendency: This is a personality disorder that is characterized by a need for excessive admiration, grandiose desire for self-importance, absence of empathy for people and a strong desire for special treatments. Social media fuels these traits. A narcissist naturally finds it difficult to achieve these desires in the physical and hence would take to social media to satisfy those desires.
3. FOMO: The Fear of missing out (FOMO) is an anxiety that a far more exciting event may be going on elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media. A psychological research supports the argument that FOMO is one of the most important causes of social media addiction. Most social media addicts respond to notifications as they fear missing out on something important. The same FOMO prevents them from going off the platforms as they fear they might miss out on some thrills.
4. Sociophobia: This is a psychological condition, and it is important that you seek professional counseling or therapy. This condition makes some people want to isolate themselves from a social gathering. This fear of mingling and interacting with others will ensnare you in the seductive net of social media addiction.
How to Overcome Social Media Addiction
- Identify your overindulgence in social media
The first step to take in your journey towards beating social media addiction is to identify the things that trigger your overindulgence and then deal with them accordingly. Escapism does not help social media addiction.
- Turn off all Social Media Notifications if possible
The sound of notifications creates some level of gratification and anxiousness that motivate you to check your phone. To avoid that temptation, turn off all social media notifications on your devices, as this act will help you focus on other stuff.
- Get a Hobby
Just like it is with other types of addiction, staying away from the addictive object could be an arduous task. A new exciting hobby could provide you with something else to look forward to.
- Talk to a Friend or Seek Professional help.
Do not be afraid to express your problem to a trusted friend – this can be a very effective approach to have someone riding with us through the journey. Also, do not forget that you might need to consult with a professional addiction counselor or a therapist.
The internet and social technologies have come to stay; we have no control over that. But realizing its importance and adverse effects, we are to find an equilibrium that best serves us. Remember, awareness is Key.