Points to ponder: Social Media during Lockdown - I

Social media addiction is as dangerous and compulsive as drug addiction; as both have the potency to affect our lifestyle.

Have you ever considered spending your entire time on Social Media? You might not have given a thought but if you are consciously or otherwise spending more than  six hours a day on Social Media platforms. You might be suffering from Social Media addiction, one of the most common addictions in today’s generation. One may think it is because we live in the age of information and technology. Does it mean that it is not a problem? The problem is very real — the National Center for Biotechnology Information has placed it alongside main disorders.

Social media addiction is as dangerous and compulsive as drug addiction; as both have the potency to affect our lifestyle. Just like any other drug addiction, we often deny and casually brush off this type of addiction too. As the entire world is under lockdown at the moment and now that everyone has gone into isolation due to social distancing, the best way people are communicating and getting entertained is through social networking. Unfortunately, of recent Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Tik Tok are not only an applications but has also become our identity and residential addresses.

We cannot deny the fact that we also get a big deal of knowledge and information due to social media presence including validation, exposure, connectivity, information, entertainment, and the social media satisfies us with a lot of emotions through just a device. Social media is also a market in its traditional sense and has huge economic value. Social media provides an endless job opportunity and many choose to become a social media professional. Social media as a profession is a very serious business of providing entertainment, information and connecting the world through a device and in the process also a means to earn unreal amount of money as well as fame and like any other profession calls for unparalleled dedication, sincerity, hard-work and perseverance.

These days without proper knowledge and understanding of social media and its required investment, many people goes insane, finding in insanity a feeling of importance in social media that they were unable to achieve in the real world and when people are so hungry for a feeling of importance, validation and exposure that they actually go insane to get it and started showing odd behaviours in public social media platform.

According to a study, social media addiction can cause problem like stress, anxiety, sleep disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), insomnia, emotional exhaustion, frustration, jealousy, body insecurity etc. This means that if not careful social media alone can lead to 99 per cent of the diseases in our life. And how do we try to distract ourselves from these problems is by resorting again back to social media for comfort.
Also as per the data from International Telecommunications Union, in the year 2019, the time spent by the internet users was 53.6 per cent and it may increase in this year also. And it is obvious that it would happen after all, we never experienced anything so sophisticated environment earlier and to be fair to the digital generation, social media is a necessity today rather than a luxury. Most people enjoy it so much that they want more and more of the feeling and acceptance from others in social media and then, it becomes an addiction.
Due to the sudden nation-wide lockdown, people are using internet at their homes much more than before due to which, there is another problem of social media addiction brewing right next to the coronavirus. In fact, there has been a massive spike in social media usage after the lockdown was announced. According to a survey, internet browsing has gone up by approximately 72 per cent since lockdown and there has been a 75 per cent increment especially in the traffic on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.

As per the studies of NIMHANS(The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences), an increment of approximately 50 per cent has been found in gaming addiction over the past few weeks. As a fact, an increment of 87 per cent in internet usage was observed in the first week of lockdown itself, it is also important to know that social media addiction was a social phenomena even before lockdown but what changes after lockdown is that those graphs of the traffic almost all the social media is escalating rapidly.  As a result the situations were already bad enough and now they have gone from bad to worse.

The problem of social media addiction is so common that it doesn’t seem like a problem at all, and that is why, introspection and not inspection can help you find out whether you are a social media addict or not.
 And also social media addiction is not just the problem of youngsters even adults also spend excess time on social media, and it is not just the fault of the users, it is the negative impact of globalization.

The social media applications plays with our psychology through their advanced algorithms, for example we used to get unlimited and infinite news and post feeds including various type of pop up notifications, this will keep our brains in a depression. Especially in the teenagers where likes, comments, followers give them validation. They relate these to their personalities, validation becomes an important necessity which is utilized and took advantage by these apps hugely.

Since, handling a Social Media account has become a current trend or influence from society. Many married couples also started engaging more and more and leads to relationship issues. According to family law firm Mckinley Irvin’s new info graphic, with one in three marriages ending because of an online affair, Facebook and Match.com are playing big rolls in the reason people divorce.

As social media has both negative and positive impact on the society, we have to try and do everything within a time limit, pay attention to our conventional hobbies. If your hobby is social media, I have got a very bad news, social media is not a hobby! There is a need to monitor the time we spend on social media and we should be aware of how many hours we are spending on the social media and how many hours can we go without it? In other words, setting time limits, keeping our phones at a distance where we cannot reach out easily and keep silent mode when engaging in work. This way we can start taking baby steps towards social media detoxification or for that matter de-addiction.

To be honest, in name of connecting people and gathering information through social media and running here and there in YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook we get an excuse that this is our normal life and in the process we become a 24-hour addict. It is high time that we introspect our own behaviours. There is no need to be ashamed of being a social media addict rather accepting and realising the truth sooner will surely help in the long run and in starting the de-addiction process.  

To treat these kinds of addiction is not the easiest thing to do and according to some of the specialized doctors, it requires lots of patience for the science and nature to work. In most of the cases, the treatment is being initiated by parents following the erratic behavior of their kids. As far as cooperation from the kids are concerned, it remains a variable as stress can cause fluctuation in their motivation, which in turn makes them less interested in the treatment. As a result Social Media addiction is becoming a bigger threat in this generations. May be the case is that technology has become more advanced before human was ready to handle and use it properly.

First Published:May 28, 2020, 3:06 p.m.