We use the term “addiction” lightly when referring to something that is seemingly more trivial, such as gummy worms or Facebook. Upon a closer examination, however, the idea of an entire faction of society being addicted to Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or any other social media site has detrimental ramifications. Think of the long term effects of a societal shift toward more removed personal relationships, in a society that already has problems with anti-social behavior and narcissism. The trend holds the possibility of weakening social bonds, furthering mental disorders and doing damage to the lives of individuals.
First we must consider whether or not the term addiction can even apply to something like a social media site. The answer is yes. Addiction may refer to any particular focus that goes to the extreme of altering an individual’s behavior and affecting the individual’s life for the worst. If someone is spending excessive hours in front of the computer to be on Facebook, ignoring life obligations, relationships or activities that are better for bodily health, they are addicted. Any behavior or substance can be addictive, but the level of severity and immediate threat varies.
Someone would have to have a very severe addiction to a social media site in order for it to qualify as an immediate threat. The long term duration of this type of addiction can, however, have unhealthy effects on the life of the addict and society at large. Someone may not even realize their ability to socialize in person gradually slipping away from them as they become more and more immersed in their social media relationships. Because social media relationships are less complicated than in person relationships, the objectification of people can begin to take hold. Before the person realizes it, they are dependent on technology to form relationships. Their inability to connect with people in person is lost. This furthers an anti-social mentality and makes the person more self-focused, or can lead to an identity crisis.
It is wise to examine yourself for signs of social media addiction. Historically speaking it is a brand new trend, and a large number of people are susceptible to it. Place rules and boundaries on yours and your dependent’s social media use. Focus on your in-person relationships rather than your social media ones. Consider counseling for addiction if you cannot control your social media time. Refuse to succumb to an internet addiction!