There was a time when religion was considered as the opium for the masses. “Religion is the opium of the people“, so said Karl Marx. Welcome to the new world where social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, etc are now the new opium for the netizens!
If the first thing you want to do when you wake up in the morning, is to log in to your Instagram or Facebook account and see how many Likes / Comments you have received (or not), then rest assured – you are hooked!
Don’t plan to shave today? Do you tweet about it and tell your 1000-odd followers who don’t know you, that you don’t plan to shave today? Or does it give you a mild depression when no one re-tweets a particular status of yours… Or maybe you feel exhilarated when you get re-tweeted maybe eight times! … Perhaps you are having dinner with your friends and you end up telling your Twitter followers how good the hotel ambiance is, rather than sharing it with your table companions; or then again, you are on a trip and your primary concern is not enjoying the scenery but taking out a picture and uploading it to your Facebook account so that you can check up the next day how many ‘Likes’ you received.
If all this is happening to you…then you are hooked, trust me!
Read: Benefits of taking Digital Detox.
Internet & Social Media Site Addiction
Riding initially on the need to share, social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have grown phenomenally. With over 700 million users, Facebook is clearly leading the pack. Not even its founders, in their wildest dreams, may have imagined that Facebook would be so popular in times to come.
Being connected to your favorite social site at all times has become a must for such. And they feel insecure if they have to disconnect for some reason. For them, staying connected could well be compared to being connected to a womb via the umbilical cord, and disconnecting or going offline would be a rather disconcerting thought for them.
Some parts of the world, especially the western world, see marriage or family as an institution crumbling and it is not uncommon to see singles staying all alone. And the need to share is one of the most basic human needs. If it’s not this, the need to be a part of the social web due to peer group pressure just makes one become member of these websites.
There is no denying that the social web plays a very useful role in keeping people connected. From finding old friends, building new associations, promoting new ventures, using them as a marketing tool, causing upheavals in Egypt, recruitment, and more – they have great value!
The disturbing trend is that people have started to think that being active on social networking sites is being social, whereas the truth is far from it. Sitting in front of computers, most 24/7, chatting with ‘friends’ (who may not be what they seem) does take away the social skills and graces which may be required to actually interact with real-life people. Security and Privacy concerns apart, some tend to share things with people who one normally should not.
And smartphones have only increased the dependency on social networks. Their effects at home, at work and at school are all too obvious!
Read: Benefits of taking a Digital Detox.
It has already been proven that Facebook addiction causes anxiety and depression, especially in youngsters. In 2013, the US plans to mark Internet Addiction as a real disorder, say reports. How often do we see them going out – playing or socializing? Or do we see them more often crouched in front of their computers spending time creating good profiles, publishing status updates, or feeding imaginary cows?
Maybe the day won’t be far that we have several de-addiction or detox camps for Facebook & Twitter addicts!
I am aware that mine is a minority view, but if you think you are spending too much time on and giving too much importance to Facebook, Twitter or any other social site, maybe for once, you want to shut off your computer, keep your smartphone at home, go take a walk and think about it.
Disconnect yourself from the net and go meet a real friend for change – and see how it feels! The idea is to strike a balance and get a real-life too!
Also read: Can Shock Therapy Cure Internet Addiction?