No longer is being an addict confined to drugs, alcohol, sex or even a being an obsessive cleaner. In this 21st Century there’s a new phenomenon which is growing daily as technology expands its reach across the globe. Creeping so stealthily one may not even realise or recognise its hold until it’s too late. What is that?
OK… it’s not a word or is it? But by definition (or my definition) means the inability to refrain from using social media at any given time whether day or night, out and about, in or outside the home or workplace. We may even wish to extend the definition further to include the incapability of leaving the dreaded cell phone behind anywhere. Heaven forbid!
I remember once, a good friend of mine in the US, was on her way to a very important meeting. She was already running late after getting up late, dressing late, grabbing her coffee late and dashing from the house late. While on the subway it slapped her that she’d forgotten her phone at home. Now instead of continuing to the meeting, she turned back home. Upon snatching her “invaluable” phone off the coffee table, it dawned her that she’d not just be late but ridiculously, incomprehensibly so. So, instead of calling and saying she was incredibly late, she rang in sick, coughing and spluttering into the phone as if she was having a fit. Fortunately for her, the meeting was rearranged and her business eventually got the contract.
The kicker… the first thing she checked when she’d retrieved her phone was Instagram and Facebook. I’m still uncertain If she entertained YouTube, Snapchat or Linked LinkedIn… but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt on those.
Social Mediaitis is so prevalent we don’t even recognise it for what it is since we’ve become so addicted to having our phones that we even walk around with them in our hands or back pockets like a necessary fashion accessory a welcome to our real life 21st Century Matrix. I guess Neo knew what he was talking about!
Just think, ten, twenty years ago people spent time talking with each other. Yet, today, technology has provided an array of how we can communicate with each other just by clicking a button or streaming live. Imagine, there’s a selection of digital choices for people nowadays to send and receive text messages, photos and video, or browse online, every single day, anytime, anywhere. And remember, age is not a factor. Today’s babies can decipher and use a tablet much quicker than their own parents. Go figure.
But what’s worse is that these distractions, especially in the workplace can impact on a business’s bottom-line as well as lead to a breakdown of social relationships, in the home, on the street and in the workplace or even school. While these disruptions create ineptitudes on the job and add costs to a business’s bottom line, the widespread and growing use of smartphones is creating a much more serious problem of interrupting social interaction. Can you imagine a scenario where we everyone stops talking to each other and does so only through a device?
I was in a meeting a few years ago and in the middle of the team discussion, a phone vibrated somewhere. We all looked around since it was loud and annoying and as the senior director was about to say something of value and importance. Now, every member within that meeting had received the memo the senior director himself had written about no phones in team meetings. So, how funny it was when, red-faced, he removed the guilty contraption from his own pocket, vibrating as if there was some kind of unknown pleasure associated with it. We’re still laughing to this day.
So how does one know they have Social Mediaitis?
According to psychologists Mark Griffiths and Daria Kuss answering “yes” to a few of these six questions means one probably is, and that one would greatly benefit from a digital detox:
• Do you spend a lot of time, when you’re not online, thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
• Do you feel urges to use social media more and more over time?
• Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?
• Do you often try to reduce your use of social media, without success?
• Do you become restless or troubled if you are unable to use social media?
• Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job, relationship, or studies?
If you have Social Mediaitis where it does interfere with competence or value, then a digital detox is required. This means, being aware and living in the moment, detaching oneself from all devices, especially those that enable easy access, experimenting with leaving devices at home or in a bag and as with any addiction the first step to change is awareness, so being in the present will help in recognising Social Mediaitis for what it is.
Even so, it’s also being aware that as bad as Social Mediaitis can be, it’s also a phenomenal tool for conducting ad facilitating business, so a paradigm mindshift and being focused with that aspect of it, will assist in driving the addiction into creating income streams and thus living real dreams. So to overcome the negative side of Social Mediaitis, is about taking small steps, beginning with an hour and moving to longer times of detachment especially when around spouses, lovers, friends or work colleagues.
And according to Griffiths and Kuss:
“While the majority of our behaviours around social media may be annoying rather than dangerous, they are nonetheless indicative of a societal problem. Steps need to be taken now, while the number of social media addicts is still small. We shouldn’t wait to see if it becomes an epidemic.”