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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Social Media Addiction

The new ‘normal’ is for everyone to have a phone in their hand. Constantly checking our facebook messages, twitter pages and Instagram accounts has become socially acceptable. Social media provides us with a platform to keep-up-to date with the world. However, living in this technological era, many of us are obsessed with constantly checking our page to ensure we haven’t missed anything.

Facebook is a fridge:  the content within it is unsurprising – we are able to guess what is inside before we even open the door- an overflow of irrelevant posts from a list of people that, a lot of the time, we barely know. Although we could quite easily pick up the phone to our friends, we provide social media with the power to lure us in. Unlike an actual fridge, which contains a bright light and things to eat, social media can leave us feeling empty and, ironically, isolated from the outside world. The frantic search for Wi-Fi or 3G, in today’s society, is regarded as a perfectly reasonable concern for when we will get our next ‘fix.’ Social media allows us to communicate but when can we finally say enough is enough, and honestly admit: We are addicted to social media.

Statistic show that 1.35 billion people use Facebook monthly, over 500 million tweets are sent out a day, and Instagram holds around 150 million users. This means that around 20% of the world’s population check their social media page on a regular basis, and although visiting monthly does not mean you are addicted, the numbers highlight that social media upholds a prominent role in our lives. In a recent survey ‘Social Media Addiction’ (2015) everyone that participated admitted to checking social media “daily”, if not, “hourly” and claimed to use it for: “socialising, keeping in contact with friends and just generally keeping up to date with the world.” However, in follow up interviews with the participants Hannah, 19, when asked if she felt the need to constantly check social media said: “Yeah - all the time. In case I have ‘missed’ something. Sounds silly, maybe it's an excuse but I really to like seeing what's happening in the world and in everyone's lives.” Erin, 27, similarly said: “Yes, it’s the only way to feel connected in the world.”  This highlights the pressures of social media to keep up in today’s world:  a world which only functions when we play our lives through the medium of an instant messaging app.

Despite social media being presented as a past time for the younger generation, this does not seem to be the case anymore. In the same conduct of interviews, Blair, 19, said that: “It used to be that adults couldn't navigate a computer to save themselves, but now this is not the case.” It appears now that it is no longer just teenagers who are glued to their phones. Take a look around- from older people sending an invite to play a game on Facebook or even a small child playing an IPad whilst waiting for their dinner in a restaurant- we are all obsessed. Tamir and Mitchell (2012) found in ‘Disclosing information about the self’ that 80% of all submissions to social media sites consist of posts about a person’s personal experiences. These intimate details which we showcase online serve to prove to our followers how interesting we are. In a recent interview with people aged 16 to 24- on the subject of whether the life they portray online is accurate- Russell, 19, believes that social media, “can make people seem more interesting than they really are because they only choose to highlight certain parts of their life.” If we look at individual apps themselves, Instagram for example provides us with the tools at the touch of our fingertips to manually alter our images in order to make them more appealing to our followers. Either to make the image more flattering or to gain more ‘likes’, we all choose to filter life. Our intrinsic drive to share ourselves with others overpowers the notion of privacy in this social-media-driven world. We use our Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts or private blogs to self-promote; we purposefully go out our way to select only things which we value as interesting to go on these pages. Like Tamir and Mitchell (2012) studied in their article, social media hands us power to show others an insight to our lives however, as we continue to portray a refined life, this becomes a very unrealistic insight.

However, we have not created this egotistical attitude ourselves. The problem lies within the social media sites that encourage us to ‘filter’ not only our pictures, but our lives. For example, Pinterest’s (whose target audience is woman, at 82% of their online traffic) aim is to provide inspiration to everyday life. The site boasts quick and easy tutorials that many try to emulate. Yet, with this idea as a basis for a social media site, audiences can tend to feel that their life does not match up to the one presented online to them.  Everything online, once we erase the boring parts, edit the lighting and provide a funny caption to go alongside it, appears more interesting. We, as a society, subconsciously compare our own lives to those we follow online. We constantly check our Facebook pages for the fear of missing out on a piece of information, or refresh our Twitter looking for an update on a celebrity’s life. Whether we admit it or not, social media plays not only a major part in our lives, but also a major factor in how we shape and present them to others.

It is easy to see that the world are relying on a concept which realistically cannot be seen, heard or touched; a concept where we literally put our lives in its hands. Despite social media effectively serving its role of allowing people to freely communicate and keep in touch, it has almost come to the stage where we may have to create a ‘Social Media Anonymous Group. ’ As a society we need to realise that social media plays a big a part in our lives, especially when it concerns what and how we present certain elements online. Over 60% of those who participated in the ‘Social Media Addiction’ (2015) survey admitted that they were addicted to social media as it was, “something they couldn’t live without.” The other 40% continue to live in denial.


Eve xo

1 comment:

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