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Is Social Media Addiction Real?

Is Social Media Addiction Real?

According to a Pew 2015 smartphone report, 93 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 admit to using their smartphone to avoid boredom. 47 percent of smartphone users say they use their smartphones to avoid talking to people around them. Lastly, 46 percent of smartphone users say they could not live without their smartphone. What does this mean for phone users? Does every person with a smartphone run the risk of becoming addicted to their device? Shockingly or not, the answer can be summed up as “no”.

One person’s Twitter is another person’s addiction

Journalist Sarah Kessler’s experience with social media therapy was quite eye opening. With an explosion of “social media sickness” news and talk of how many of us are addicted to our phones, this study brought us back to the point that we are all people who love interaction and social media just happens to be a form of that. The article It shows that while most of us understand that social media has independently invaded almost every aspect of our daily lives, just like any other addiction it really depends on the individual.

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Sure, everyone could benefit from distancing themselves from social media from time to time, but because of work many of us depend on these forums in order to complete our daily tasks. Just because someone is checking social media for work, does not equate to addiction. Comparable to other studies done on the subject of television and video game addiction the results vary largely from one person to another. Now, someone who misses work, loses sleep, and destroys relationships because of one medium or another is a completely different story. Using the word “addiction” for someone who checks their phone multiple times in a day is not a fair assessment.  As the old adage goes, “everything is fine in moderation” for most folks.

Sarah’s social media addiction therapist suggested that social media interaction is just another piece of a whole person. Just the same as someone mentioning a conversation that bothered them to their therapist, patients are now mentioning issues that have occurred on one social media platform or another – “he liked her picture and that bothered me” or “I wasn’t invited to their facebook event”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that someone affected by these social media behaviors is addicted. Additional analysis would be needed to determine if someone can in fact separate themselves, their thoughts and feelings, from social media. In the examples above, as a general statement, those not affected by addiction should be able to relate to that person outside of social media in “real world” context and say “he liked her picture because I know that they are friends” or “maybe they forgot to invite me to their facebook event”. This goes without saying, many people are unable to make these types of connections even before social media is introduced into their lives.

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Addiction is a serious mental illness

For some, social media can absolutely instigate a form of interaction and behavior that is disembodied from their normal social selves. Generalizing that all social media creates bad habits and negative thinking is not accurate and has not been proven. Of course, as with any other type of interaction, people choose to act in positive or negative ways. This may be influenced by the comments or reactions of others within an individual’s social media family, but unsavory behavior for some does not translate to the same type of behavior for all.

None of this is to say that social media addiction is not real, because it is. The thing to understand is that in many cases of addiction other mental illnesses are present that perpetuate one form of addiction or another. Facebook does not cause addiction, mental illness causes addiction. Just as some are able to have one or two drinks in an evening and others must drink more because of their illness. Although it is unjust to compare true substance abuse to television or media, the basic concept is the same. Many things in life can be habit forming.

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Overconsumption, obsession, consequences, and withdrawal are signs of a true addiction. Everyone browses the web now and then, but someone who has little time in the day for any other activities may have a problem. If social media is a constant topic of discussion with others and a need to be on social media envelops a person’s thoughts they might need help. A huge sign of dependency for any addict includes loss of relationships, loss of interest in other hobbies and work, and loss of care that their addiction is ruining their life. Finally, when the person is absent from their addiction they will show signs of withdrawal – irritability, expressing a “need” for the addiction, etc.

A smartphone in the hand of any person does not mean that addiction is imminent. Many other factors work cohesively in order to put together the puzzle that is our mental health. Setting boundaries with any activity is a healthy practice for any person that wants to discourage unhealthy habits from forming.

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Featured photo credit: Pabak Sarkar/Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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