It’s early in the morning.
You are sinking into your bed’s warm, soft, calming aura in absolute silence.
Then you hear one of the most infuriating sounds ever created by man; the alarm clock.
Clearly jealous of the relationship you have with your bed, it does all it can to break you up.
Refusing to give in to its drilling sound, you turn it off but it’s too late. You are up, you are annoyed, and in need of a strong dose of caffeine to help you get through the day.
Think about your morning routine for a moment. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Well, since it’s the 21st century and we are living in a technology-dominated world, I can only assume your alarm is on your phone.
So following the alarm turn-off, you are slowly falling into the “social media trap”.
From never-ending Instagram stories to random Facebook posts by people you don’t even remember.
Time flies, and guess what? You are already late for work.
A couple of years ago we would tell our online friends “brb” (short for “be right back”) and go on with our routines before returning to the computer’s screen a few hours later.
Today we no longer say “brb”. We no longer have to, because we never physically leave. We live here now, and it’s as if our phone is another part of our body.
So, are you addicted to social media?
Well, the analysis below might make you think it over.
Where It All Began: Social Media Recap
Social media networks have been around since the 90s.
More specifically, 22 years ago! Feeling old yet?
“Six Degrees” was basically the old-school version of Facebook, where users could create a profile, add their picture, and become friends with other users.
Reaching around 3.5 million users, YouthStream Media Networks acquired it in 1999 for $125 million but shut it down about a year later.
The philosophy was that people were separated by six degrees, and the feature showed you how you were connected with strangers. Many actually also used it as a dating site, before Tinder was cool.
“Friendster”, became a mainstream digital success when created in 2002.
Unable to compete with the other fast-growing social media networks at the time, and due to many glitches that the page had, in 2011 the site abandoned user-profiles and transitioned into a social entertainment and gaming site.
The Bright Side
After pizza, the Internet is probably one of the best contraptions ever made and we’ll forever be thankful for it.
Social media isn’t just for distraction or procrastination, and although many are awfully addicted to it, it is one of the best ways to stay informed.
From what your cute neighbour had for lunch, to what is going on with that summer hailstorm in Guadalajara, social media is the place to be informed about pretty much anything.
Communication is undeniably another awesome thing about social media.
You can stay in touch with friends, family, stalk your ex, and even meet new people through apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and Instagram.
Additionally, many marginalized groups such as people with disabilities have found a new form of communication through social media.
SWHELPER’s Vilissa Thompson stated that social media “has enabled people with disabilities the ability to effectively advocate and/or protest against policies and programs that affect their quality of life”.
Continuing, Vilissa also mentioned that: “it has opened doors when it comes to communication, therapeutic progress, and educational enhancement for students and adults with disabilities.”
With countless online communities from pug groups, cooking groups, to phobias and even psychological support from strangers, you can connect with people from all over the world instantly.
The connection social media gives to people also applies for job opportunities. Businesses can contact potential employees easily, and employees can also find open positions posted on the company’s official social media page.
Millennials have grasped onto social media and everything it has to offer, using it to their advantage.
YouTubers, Bloggers, Vloggers and Podcasters know the value of social media, and they know that brands will follow their target audience. Thus, social media has turned into a fast-growing business itself.
No, seriously, according to Hopper HQ’s 2018 Instagram Rich List, mega-stars like Selena Gomez and Kylie Jenner pull in $800,000 and $1,000,000 per post!
Since we are now on the entertainment-side of things, celebrities make us feel part of their daily lives through live streaming and live chat services.
Going from bedroom singers to sell-out artists, thanks to the power of social media. Let’s not forget how Justin Bieber and The Weeknd became famous! (Thank you YouTube.)
Moving to the political-side of things, research has shown that in addition to entertainment, marketing and digitally socializing with people, social media has increased voter participation.
According to The New York Times, there was a study/experiment done by a journal on Facebook, where it would show pictures of users’ friends who said they had voted.
As a result, this generated 340,000 additional votes nationwide!
The Dark Side
Unfortunately, what is known as “the dark side of the internet” is indeed a thing, and social media is not all unicorns and rainbows.
PSYCOM published an article saying that the time spent scrolling through social media apps and negative body image feedback are interlinked.
You must have noticed all of those ads about slimming teas, temporary lip fillers, even gummy bears that help your hair grow.
We are basically imprisoned in a filter-plastic-advertising world without end.
Instagram recently stated: “In addition to our ads policies we recently introduced a new policy that restricts organic posts promoting the use of cosmetic procedures to over 18s”.
Now, this step could be seen as progress, but still, so many teens and young adults fall into the trap of buying “miraculous” weight-losing products sponsored by celebrities or social media influencers.
All of these misleading posts on social media have been affecting people’s mental health and the way they see their bodies.
A study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine proved that adults who spend more time on social media are more likely to report symptoms of depression and even sleep.
Similarly, the University of Copenhagen showed that a large number of people suffer from “Facebook envy”, and those who don’t use it frequently reported that they felt more satisfied with their lives.
Psychologist Dr. Tim Bono told Healthista: “When we derive a sense of worth based on how we are doing relative to others, we place our happiness in a variable that is completely beyond our control”, adding “Within moments of logging on to social media we have instant access to others’ accomplishments, vacations, job promotions, home upgrades, and culinary creations. It’s nearly impossible not to get swept into the cycle of comparison.”
Besides the unhealthy content that gets us all feeling depressed, did you know that an Instagram Ad Partner Tracked Users’ Locations and Stories?
Okay, you better sit down for this.
Right when we started feeling slightly safer after Facebook updated all of those privacy-access settings, things started turning again for two of the most popular social media platforms.
Facebook and Instagram.
Apparently, based on Forbes’ article, a (what was thought to be) trusted marketing partner of Facebook and Instagram called “Hyp3r” was secretly collecting and storing data on millions of users against the policies of both social networks, including their locations and their Stories content!
So basically, they didn’t care about rules, policies, GDPR, you name it, and without any authorization stored everyone’s data!
The worst part? It has been happening for years.
Both social media giants found out and kicked out Hyp3r off of their platforms, issued a cease and desist against the company, and made changes to their platform to prevent it from happening again. Although, these changes were never specified.
The dramatic effects social media has on us doesn’t stop here though.
It actually gets worse.
One of the most negative influences, especially for teenagers, cyberbullying has been causing long-lasting pain and on many occasions resulted in suicide.
Fake profiles are all over the place and are followed with nasty comments, threats, hacking etc., to the point where it’s starting to get out of control.
According to techjury, 34% of kids in the US have experienced cyberbullying at least once, 42% of LGBT youth have experienced cyberbullying, and 66% of female victims have feelings of powerlessness because of cyberbullying.
Are you a Social Media addict?
James Roberts, PhD, a marketing professor at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, came up with the below six questions to test whether you have a social media addiction or not. Here we go:
- Salience: Is social media use heavily integrated into your daily routine?
- Tolerance: Do you find yourself spending progressively more time on social media to get the same satisfaction?
- Euphoria: Do you rely on social media as a source of excitement, or to cope with boredom or loneliness?
- Withdrawal: Do you feel a need to use social media, and feel edgy or anxious when you cannot?
- Relapse: Do attempts to quit or reduce social media use fail?
- Conflict: Does social media cause problems in your life or conflicts with loved ones?
Now, if your answer is yes to 3 or more of the questions above, we have news for you…
You are addicted to social media.
In denial? Take Quizony’s quiz to double-check!
Social Media or Antisocial Media?
It’s quite tricky to reach a conclusion on how good or bad social media affects our lives.
It always comes down to whether you are “using” something or “abusing” it.
The main thing people should do is test themselves and find out whether they are indeed addicted to social media or not.
We love social media and the connection it gives us, but how do we know if it’s too much?
Maybe the quote “when the phone was tied, people were free” is actually true in the end.