Years ago when Facebook hit the scene no one really knew what to expect from the website.
The site was exclusive to college students and allowed them to keep in touch with their friends at different colleges… and that’s it.
Fast forward to today and social media, which has grown far beyond just Facebook with the addition of websites like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, has become an addiction that doesn’t just encompass college students, it encompasses teens, parents, and grandparents alike. Even our pets have their own Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.
Don’t believe that social media is a metaphorical type of drug? Let’s compare.
1. It fills a self-imposed boredom: How many times have you heard someone say, “well I just get on to [Facebook, Twitter, etc.] when I’m bored”? People spend more time being “bored” than ever before. Instead of getting out and doing something we choose to spend our time inside on a computer checking up on other people’s lives and connecting with our friends through websites. Like a drug taking up all of our free time that could be spent doing something productive, instead we opt to fill our free time with social media.
2. It gives highs and lows: What about when you log onto a social media website and see that you have new notifications or connections? There is that instant high that someone has reached out to you publicly on a social media site. We crave social media popularity. It’s addicting. We need the gratification and we get jealous when we see other people are more popular and depressed when no one has tagged us in anything.
3. It’s used as a reward: Finish a project? Check Twitter. Write an article? Check Facebook. Visit a museum. Check Instagram. Check off items on a to-do list? Check blogs. We use social media as a reward for completing everyday tasks that deserve no reward, tasks that we should be doing because we are supposed to, not because it will allow us to reward ourselves with our next social media high.
4. It causes us to have withdrawals: Maybe the first time you noticed was when you sat at a stoplight and had to log onto your Facebook account from your phone… just to see if anything interesting was happening. Maybe it was when you couldn’t sit through dinner without tweeting something to your followers. Maybe it was the first time you got a pang of longing to log on because you weren’t around an internet. Whatever the cause, we suffer withdrawals from not being able to check in with our social media sites, just like drug addicts long for the next time they can get high. FOMO (fear of missing out) has become a reality to many.
5. It’s a tough addiction to break: As easy as it is to say that you aren’t addicted to social media as soon as you think about closing your accounts you’re probably met with that same fear that many people feel when faced with the thought of a life without it. How will you function since it’s become such an integral part of your life? Many of us have been addicted for so long that it would be incredibly difficult to make a clean break from the constant routine of checking our varying social media profiles.
Social media may not be illegal and it may not come with serious physical consequences, but it is an addiction that we are facing, and our teens are facing it in an even greater way because they’ve been inundated into the social media culture at a much earlier age than our generation of young and old adults were.