My social media addiction took over my life
How many times do you look at your mobile phone a day?
I checked my usage levels recently and apparently I look at mine nearly 100 times every day. That’s once every 15 minutes.
That includes the seven hours a night that I sleep so I actually check it every 10 minutes when I’m awake.
Is social media a serious problem or just a bit of innocent fun to while away a few minutes on the train?
According to the health experts excessive social media use can damage your mental health, especially in the young people.
Having joined BusinessCloud I was asked to investigate and quickly realised I spend more than just a few minutes on social media.
I should have realised the overpowering nature of my addiction when I checked my Facebook while watching a film at the cinema. It wasn’t a very good film but that’s no excuse.
A recent study from Hootsuite found that the average person has seven social media accounts. I have nine. If you’re interested they’re Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ (although Google+ is soon to drop off the list).
I recently updated my Twitter account after joining BusinessCloud and I hadn’t posted since 2017 so why do I have it on my phone at all?
Like a lot of 21-year-olds there probably isn’t a time when my phone isn’t within one metre of my hand – during meals, during films, and it definitely has a designated area on the bedside table.
But I never saw a problem - until now. I’m open about my love for the internet and felt I could push away when I needed to – it was always my choice.
I find myself in a social media hole at times – opening each one in rotation, looking for new content and moving on to the next.
By the time I’m back around to the beginning, enough time has passed for new content, and so it continues. It’s a dangerous cycle, especially before bed.
I need social media for my job as a journalist but that can sometimes be a convenient excuse for my excessive use.
This year I will celebrate my 10 year Facebook account anniversary, and I’m not entirely sure what I’ve gained, other than the realisation I must have made my account when I was 12, even though the legal age is 13.
350 friends, a few small accomplishment brags and a couple of marketplace purchases. Yet, you will find me scrolling for around 30 minutes every day.
However with a third of the world’s population active monthly, who wants to be left out?
Whereas Twitter for me is the complete opposite. Every person who follows me doesn’t know who I am. I can be whoever I want to be, and be in select circles of followers that share the same ideologies.
This can also be dangerous as it sucks you into feeling like only your opinions matter. Who needs to hear from people of a different political party or will challenge my first world problems, when I can just follow people I agree with?
It makes us feel connected and almost special, which millennials have been branded as our problem – we want to feel noticed in this big world.
Instagram is all about lifestyle. It’s for showing off your best moments and the exciting things you do, to paint a picture to your followers of a life you probably don’t live.
Whilst all social media platforms give you the chance to portray a different ‘you’, Instagram requires you to post a visual of your brag, giving less chance to lie.
With cropping and filters however, your profile can become a sunny, expensive masquerade of 10 per cent of your year, with holidays, workouts and your best selfies.
I use it to look at photography and photos of dogs, but I’ll end up sighing at the beaches and models that I’m not at or won’t look like.
Snapchat adds a time pressure to its platform with posts disappearing after 24 hours. This keeps the addiction fresh as there is a need not to miss anything.
Places like Reddit and Tumblr have been used for inspiration mainly, whether it be for crafts, recipes or home ideas.
There’s something satisfying about saving a project you hope to do in the future – except I never actually do any of them, I just enjoy the idea that I might.
I used to see LinkedIn as just a fancy CV, but going into business has given it a great power, making connections key.
The LinkedIn me is entirely different to Twitter me, and that’s where the joy of social media comes from – being the same person with 10 apps that fit multiple areas of my personality.
Social media, although can be seen as a waste of time, does have the benefits of feeling supported when the real world doesn’t help, and generally keeping in contact with friends, or making new ones.
I find the main element of social media is leading a life that isn’t our own. We idolise lifestyles and choose whether to see them as inspirations or set backs against ourselves, which with the latter can be harmful.
What I can take away from this is that social media does not need to be so important in my daily routine.
I could spend more time reading books or listening to podcasts uninterrupted, and maybe get an extra hour of sleep on some occasions.
Even turning my phone over on the table would stop me from seeing the blinking notification light that drags me back in.
I’ve never smoked but I imagine I’m addicted to social media like smokers crave nicotine. I’ve resolved to cut back but I’m honest enough to know that I couldn’t stop completely.