Social Media Addiction: Good and Bad

Thursday, November 29th, 2012|Advice, Elexu Team Posts|by EmilyPoon

Today’s post comes from Intern Emily who writes about social media addiction.

Hello fellow internet citizen. Do you have a Facebook account? Twitter? Pinterest? Tumblr? Soundcloud? Linkedin Account? Youtube account? Do you own one of these accounts? A few? Or all.

I doubt the majority of readers will say that they have none of the above; Generation Y, you must have at least one!  Especially in this day and age where exchanging Facebook profiles is as common, if not more common, as exchanging phone numbers between friends. Social media usage is so ordinary now that there is even a psychological diagnosis affiliated with it: “Internet Addiction Disorder” which is readily accepted in China, Taiwan and South Korea, and next year, this disorder will be listed in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-V), aka the American “bible of psychology”.

But are you addicted? Apparently the symptoms include: preoccupation with the internet/internet gaming, withdrawal symptoms when internet is unavailable and loss of other interests. It has been noted that when we receive a notification from our social media profiles, we get a hit of dopamine, which is a chemical in our brain that affects our behavior, sleep, cognition and, more importantly, our mood. With each hit of dopamine, it recharges our addictive compulsion. Thus, technically speaking, it is scientifically possible to be addicted to the Internet.

With this in mind when I evaluate myself, I’m not addicted… am I? When I disappeared to Asia in the summer, I didn’t always have the Internet and I don’t feel like I had withdrawal symptoms, but when I managed to access free Wifi I was ridiculously happy with the fact that I can see what my friends have been doing back home.

I mean, when I don’t have Internet access at home, I complain… that’s not necessarily a symptom right? Its not like I come out in rashes or anything. But when it comes down to it, I probably do spend a LOT of time on social media websites. Especially when I was at university, and when I’m on the train, and when I’m waiting for a friend and before I go to bed and….  Hm.

But can you blame me though? A lot of the time I’m facing a screen. When I want a quick break from a task at hand, I’ll take a cheeky moment to check my Twitter and maybe I do get a little excited when I see someone has tweeted me back, but is addicted a good word to describe me?

The thing with social media now is that is connects people in different ways: socially, professionally, nondescriptly, purposefully etc.… It’s true social media can be a time-wasting activity, but working at Elexu has made me realise that if you do spend a lot of time on social media, you might as well do it with a purpose. At least when you use Elexu, there is a purpose of attempting to become one step closer to your aspiration. Whereas Tumblr is just… looking at what you and other people COULD aspire to… and loads of cats. Social media can be a good addiction if you use it in the right way.