Let’s face it: social media has become a huge part of a lot of people’s lives. It is used to post pictures, give life status updates, display your many interests, and showcase your sense of self through 140-character anecdotes based on your current mood or life experiences. It is even used to promote businesses, market different products, and to give news coverage for current events that are happening in our world today.
Wherever you go, you will see other people using social media for a wide array of purposes, however, over recent years, social media has been getting some buzz about possessing addictive properties. Especially in the counseling field, many addiction therapists are researching a new trend in social media and how it can cause certain addictive behaviors in people who use it. The constant utilization of social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter are causing a kind of addiction within its users that make them not only want to be on those apps very frequently, but it creates a sense of need and an unwillingness to be without social media that shows how rampant and widespread this phenomenon is.
I am one to admit that I use social media more than anybody in my family and friends. I post pictures to my Instagram and Facebook almost regularly, I am constantly tweeting or retweeting Tweets on Twitter, and I am even sharing food and puppy posts on Facebook for the sheer enjoyment of myself and my followers. But how do I know that I might be “addicted” to social media? How does anybody know they are addicted to social media? Ultimately, what are the signs and how can we recognize them?
Keep in mind that social media addiction, while still a researched topic, is not something that can be diagnosed. It is also not a fully-theorized and tested disorder, however, it is a concept that has made its way into mainstream conversation that should be talked about. Plus, writing this blog is in due part to the interest I have with social media, its addictive properties, its integration into the counseling profession, and its relevance in our society today.
Below is my own subjective list of the top ten signs that someone may be addicted to social media with some help from a social media blogger Jeff Bullas in his blog post “10 Signs You Are Addicted To Social Media.”
1) You can’t go 1-2 hours without checking how many likes you received on a new post you made.
2) You check your Facebook at least 20 times a day.
3) You constantly check if you gained new followers on your Instagram every day.
4) You forget or leave your phone at home and you feel a sense of anxiousness or loss due to the fact that you cannot check your social media pages.
5) You have more online friends than you do real friends.
6) The first thing you do in the morning—or the first thing you think about every morning—is to check your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
7) The last thing you do for the day—or the last thing you think about every night—is check your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. profiles.
8) When you feel a sense of inadequacy or lack of popularity when you do not receive a lot of comments or likes on a post.
9) Not being able to socially or mentally function without having checked your social media pages at least once during the day.
10) You find it hard to give your undivided attention to those wanting to interact with you face-to-face while you are checking your social media pages.
If you notice any one or two of these signs in yourself, then it may be safe to say that you are a bit of a social media addict. Don’t worry: I’m definitely a social media addict as per the signs. Making this list is not to call people out on their obsession with social media. It is, however, to highlight how universal social media is in our daily lives. Without social media, how will we be up to date on all the current events that are happening in our world? How will we be able to get updates on distant relatives we don’t talk to in a while? How will we be able to connect with others who may live far away or who are a bit more introverted and prefer cyber connectivity?
While I feel social media—like anything else—should be utilized in moderation, I do believe that social media has the power to connect us all; to bring people around the world closer together. That is what we strive to do here at Tree Frog: to bring people around the world together and to connect you with other people in hopes of expanding your following on all social media platforms. By being active on social media, it will help you connect with others. By connecting with others, it will help you to be in tune with the rest of the world.
So, even if you find that you are addicted to social media, do not take it to heart. It may mean that you prioritize social media above other aspects of your life or it may mean that you are attached to your phone like it’s another part of your body. Whatever the case may be, finding out you are addicted to social media will help you be more mindful of how much you use it and how to take the steps necessary to cut down before it possibly inhibits other areas of your life. On the other hand, it should also help you be more mindful of how connected you are with various parts of the world and how in sync you are with the current technological trends and fads. Why not use it to launch a social media empire? Or use it to become a social media influencer? Or even use it to your advantage by working for one of the social media sites you utilize frequently? The whole point behind treating an addiction is coming up with ways to cope and heal with it and sometimes it is focusing on your strengths as a person to help you through your symptoms.
So, use your social media obsession towards something more useful and productive as a way of defeating those addictive behaviors. Use it enough where you can gain those followers and likes organically without constantly obsessing as to why you aren’t getting as many as you would have hoped. Utilize social media for the fun of it rather than for the obtainment of instant gratification. Ultimately, use social media for you and you only; not for the benefit and gratification of others.
I hope this blog taught you a bit about yourself and how we—all of us social media users—can be addicted to social media. It may not be easy to admit, but taking those steps to be more aware of ourselves and others is never a bad thing. Also, taking the steps to be aware of how prevalent we make social media in our lives is never a bad thing either. We may, in one way or another, be addicted to social media, but at least we have the strength, the knowledge, and the power to overcome it and to use social media in the way that it was intended: for the sheer enjoyment, fun, and connectivity it provides us all.