Social media addiction and everyday life.

Introduction

What is Social Media addiction? Leslie Walker from About.com defines Social Networking (Media) addict as being “Someone spending too much time using Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media — so much so that it interferes with other aspects of daily life.” http://personalweb.about.com/od/socialmediaaddiction/a/Social-Networking-Addiction.htm People use social media for a variety of different reasons such as: Discovery, expression, escapism and fame to name a few, and social media can mean these things and more depending on who you ask, during a lecture had on the topic we were asked if we social media addicts.

We were taken through the psychology behind the addiction we were told that people with the disease can get a burst of dopamine when others like or re-tweet their status’, and on the flip side can cause people to get anxious if their comments don’t get approval in the form of a like or re-tweet, and that an addict spends more than 5 hours a day on social media sites. When listening to these facts being read out I was shocked to hear that social media could rule a person’s life in the way it does an addicts and that approval or lack of can quickly change a suffers’ mood.

How does it affect everyday life?

Social media addiction affects everyday life significantly; during the lecture we were told that research by Columbia University has shown that social media can be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. When I heard this I began to understand the seriousness of the addiction and during class we discussed why this might be, it was pointed out that cigarettes and alcohol are physical products that require money social media addiction has a more psychological aspect to it and all it requires is a monthly fee for a user’s internet connection with unlimited access.

During the seminar we were given a quote from Consultant psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham who highlighted the extent of the addiction by saying that suffers “start to miss or avoid doing the necessary things in life, even at a fundamental level of self-care. They delay eating or avoid eating or drinking, delay sleep, miss meetings or delay getting into work or college.” in addition to this we were told of cases where addicts would use social media instead of washing themselves. The last case in particular really opened my eyes and showed me what a grip social media has on these people’s lives and I felt nothing but sympathy towards them.

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How is work affected?

During the seminar we were given a case study which focused on a girl called Emma, Emma is a 24 year old Masters student who spends time procrastinating and uses social media instead of working. When I was being told about Emma I was surprised to hear that I masters student was battling with an addiction to social media on top of her postgraduate studies, I would have thought that she would have time or make the time to go on these sites as people I know who are studying postgraduate courses have said that their degree rules their lives more so than their undergraduate degree did.

While I was being told about Emma and her condition I was sad to hear that she used it to gain some sort of acceptance “I think it gives you a sense of acceptance, I guess a feeling that others find you interesting or likeable.” I thought that this statement in particular was sad because to me the statement said that she wasn’t getting the acceptance that she wanted or needed offline so she went online to seek acceptance there, and how the acceptance side of the addiction had taken over her life.

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Afterthoughts

By the end of the lecture I myself questioned how long I’d spent on social networking sites such as Facebook and twitter that particular day and over the course of the week, in addition to this I also asked myself why I use these sites and what I get out of them. After the lecture I was more conscious of how long I was on social media for and what I do when I’m on it, for me personally I like the community side of social networking and I am subscribed to several different music groups and pages, and I use social media to look for new and different types of music that someone has made or recommended. Before going into the seminar I didn’t know that condition such as this existed, but we’re all guilty of going on Facebook or twitter in the office or at school/ University, or going on YouTube to search videos of funny cats instead of working at some point or another.

After the lecture I looked at social media addiction on the internet and came across an RTÉ article (http://www.rte.ie/news/special-reports/2013/0212/367408-social-media-addiction-recognised-as-official-condition/ ) which stated that Social Media Addiction is now recognized as a medical condition, and that there is help for people suffering from the condition which shows there is hope for those suffering from it.

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