One of the most popular songs currently doing the rounds is #selfie by the Chainsmokers, and this tune pokes fun at the obsession that many people have of taking pictures of themselves and posting them to Facebook. Social media has had a huge impact on the way people live, and there is little doubt that some engage with this online platform to such an extent that it is causing problems in their life. It can become such an obsession that it could be considered as much of an addiction as alcoholism.
It has never been as easy to engage with others and make new friends. Social media never closes and it is possible to have friends in every time zone. This means that that there will always be somebody to share interesting stories with, engage with in a debate, or ask for advice. Users of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can pick up thousands of followers, which can mean that they begin to feel like a bit of a celebrity. It is even possible to develop a lucrative career by just using social media strategically.
There are definitely some drawbacks to social media. One of the ironies with this new form of communication is that it can actually lead to loneliness and isolation. Individuals can become so focused on online friends that they neglect friendships in the real world. This is problematic because engaging with people via and computer would mean missing out on some important elements of human contact.
One of the other cons of social media is that it can encourage individuals to engage in dangerous behaviours. An example of this is the recent craze called neknominate whereby people use websites like Facebook to dare each other to drink alcoholic cocktails that are dangerously strong. There have already been a number of deaths due to this type of online game and it is only likely to get worse in the future. Social media does give everyone the opportunity to have a little of time in the spotlight, but the drawback of this is that people will go to extraordinary lengths to become noticed.
An easy way to define an addiction would be to say that the person is continuing to engage in a behaviour even though it is having obvious negative effects in his or her life. Some of the other symptoms of this type of addiction would include:
- attempting to hide the amount of time spent on social media
- failing to take care of work, home, or social responsibilities due to the behaviour
- finding it hard to control the amount of time spent on these websites
- friends and family are concerned about the behaviour
- a feeling of defensive when the subject of social media use is mentioned (this can be due to denial)
- losing interest in other hobbies and activities
- withdrawing from people in the real world in order to spend more time online
- finding it hard to stop using these websites.
Social media can have a negative impact on those individuals who engage in it too much. It can also lead to problems for society as a whole due to lost productivity and the breakdown of community spirit. The fact that this type of addiction can also trigger mental health problems will also put pressure on the NHS. The worry is that as social media use becomes even more prevalent than drinking, it will lead to increasing problems.