Social Media is an Obsession, not an Addiction, According to Expert

According to Larry Rosen, psychology professor at California State University and auther of “iDisorder,” people who want to give up social media end up being anxious and being unable to do so. Specifically, these people are “afraid they’ll miss out on something.”

People who say that they will disable their account and do so sincerely, but often these threats are empty. Most quitters end up going back to their Facebook or Twitter accounts the following day. As such, many have called use of social media as an addiction. In fact, a Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale was created by Norwegian researchers to determine how addicted some people are to the social networking site.

On the other hand, Rosen said that Social media usage is in fact an obsession, not an addiction. Addiction, he says, happens when something is done to obtain pleasure, like playing games or smoking. Facebook, Twitter and other addictive social media sites help reduce anxiety.

Social media usage is habit-forming and pleasurable, as evidenced by the huge number of users Twitter (500 million) and Facebook (1 billion) have.

According to experts, people who try to get out of social media will have a hard time doing so, and if they do, will eventually go back to it. (Image: Mike Licht,

Some researchers suggest that using social media should be limited, but to give it up entirely is practically unfeasible. Rosen said that we are all wired to this paradigm shift which involves having an online character which is managed by other people.

A poll conducted by AP-CNBC shows that forty six percent of Facebook users who are Americans predicted that the social networking site will just live a short life and be just a fad. Forty three percent said that Facebook will basically be a permanent thing.

Once you decide to quit Facebook, it’s easy to return; the site will store your photos in case you decide to come back. Furthermore, Twitter stores your tweets for up to 30 days after you decide to deactivate your account.

According to Rosen, changing social media use habits can be done through gradual steps. She said that “it’s just like any other drug that you wean yourself off of. I talk about taking technology breaks, where you say, ‘I’m going to check my phone for a minute, turn it upside down on silent and set it to beep in 15 minutes.’ Then you can lengthen the time.”

Those who have been successful at implementing technology breaks appreciate the increase in their productivity, among others. Quitting on Facebook or Twitter can indeed be done, albeit very rare.

On the other hand, there are people think that reports on social media addiction are exaggerated, including Judith Donath from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society of Harvard University.

Donath said that many people say social media has improved the way they keep in touch with people. For a society, looking down on social matters is not healthy. While time maybe wasted on using social media, it’s worse to waste time spent engaging in movie marathons, and other more harmful addictions.


Author: Neal Alfie Lasta

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