behavior · brain · community · emotion · happiness · mental health · Social

Yes, you can now be addicted to social media

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface
Social media keeps us connected with friends, but for some can be detrimental to everyday life. Image via Wikipedia

I love being able to connect to old friends, classmates, and coworkers via social media, as well as share thoughts, ideas, and new developments. But some people can take it too far, and while I have my weaknesses as much as the next gal, I don’t think I’d consider myself addicted as they describe it. Apparently people can receive intense highs from the social interactions and feel like they need a “fix” if they go on too long without checking in to one of their social media networks.

When you hear the word ‘addiction’ perhaps you think of alcohol, drugs and sex. But what about social media? Over recent years there’s been an emergence of studies into social media as a new form of addiction.

Research by Retrevo Gadgetology looked into how people use social networking sites. Out of those asked, 45% said they check Facebook or Twitter after getting into bed. People under the age of 25 were the more extreme with 19% saying they log on any time they wake up during the night, 27% said they sometimes check when they wake up during the night and 32% check in first thing in a morning.

via Social Media: The Pursuit of Happiness.

To me this indicates just how detached and isolated many of us are, that instead of going to a local gathering or even a bar or club when we’re feeling lonely, we go online. It’s been shown that Americans feel more isolated and alone than at any other time in our history (or at least history of checking for this kind of thing), and I would hypothesize we’re turning to these social media networks as some way to retain communities we’ve established in other physical locales, or create new ones that are entirely virtual. I also wonder if the meta-interaction makes people feel less fulfilled than dealing with people in real, physical life and make them anxious to get more. I believe social media networks are useful, no doubt, but I do wonder if we are using them as a crutch rather than actually meeting people in person. Granted a lot of social media sites encourage actual in-person meetings, from online dating sites to the new GrubwithUs startup that acts as matchmaker for hungry social types in various cities across the U.S.

What are your thoughts about social media networks and people who can’t seem to unplug from them? Leave your thoughts and/or experiences in the comments below.