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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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