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Can Social Media Be Addictive? Some Thoughts on What to Do About It

Can Social Media Be Addictive? Some Thoughts on What to Do About It

Addiction2The inquiring minds on the Go Be Social Media team want to know:

Can you be addicted to social media?

Sam Fiorella, a partner with Sensei Marketing and author of “Influence Marketing” seems to think so.

Earlier this year, Fiorella blogged on TheHuffingtonPost.com about “The Addiction and Cost of Social Media”

Social media is like a drug, asserted Fiorella…just a little taste and we can’t help but want more.

“And social networks are the drug dealers,” he wrote. “They facilitate our addiction to this gateway drug with one-click access to our social graph and a multitude of other sites and apps. They’ve gamified the experience to appeal to our human needs so well that Maslow himself would weep with pride. With each click, we enter a maze of endless possibilities, often ending up in networks or conversations that have nothing to do with our initial reasons for logging in.”

An addiction to social media has a steep cost in time, emotion and privacy, according to Fiorella.

  • As of July 2012, the total time spent accessing and engaging in social media sites had increased 37 percent in the U.S., representing 121 billion minutes (up from 88 billion minutes the year before).
  • A study by the University of Waterloo as reported in Psychological Science demonstrated that Facebook engagement can increase the likelihood of depression in some people.
  • Every time you register or log in, even for something as simple as performing a Google search, you’re establishing a personal profile about yourself within the data repositories of social networks like Facebook and Google+. Social networks track when and how often you perform certain tasks, what you’re engaged in and with whom.

The solution to this problem has to be long-term, but since this is summertime, vacationing offers opportunity for a temporary antidote to social media addiction.

HuffPo recently published “10 Digital Detox Vacation Hacks To Help You Truly Unplug.”

On your next trip:

  1. Leave your phone charger at home and depart with a full battery – you’ll able to check your phone when necessary, but otherwise have to use it conservatively to save battery.
  2. Keep your phone on “airplane mode” after your flight lands.
  3. If you think you’ll be tempted to turn your data back on, try the Digital Detox smartphone app, which disables your phone for time increments of between 30 minutes and one month. And if you must bring your laptop with you for work purposes, try installing Anti-Social, a Mac app that will block social media sites from your browser.
  4. For a digital detox and wellness-boosting vacation, try a Via Yoga Retreat in Mexico or Costa Rica — you’ll get a 15 percent discount for surrendering your phone upon arrival.
  5. Addicted to Twitter or Angry Birds? Delete the app from your phone before you leave, and don’t reinstall it until after you get back. Having to take the one extra step of re-installing the app will likely prevent you from doing it.
  6. Buy a disposable camera (yes, the $10 drugstore kind) to capture memories from your trip — without spending time staring at your screen to find the perfect filters and hashtags.
  7. Make your itinerary before you go, and bring good old-fashioned maps and guidebooks with you to avoid spending a good chunk of your vacation staring at the moving blue dot on your Google Maps app.
  8. If you’re traveling abroad, DON’T spring for an international plan – knowing that you’ll be charged exorbitantly, you’ll be forced to be more selective about how you use your data.
  9. One Lifehacker commenter recommends loading up on all your Internet-related activities before you go – and then unplugging completely. “Get maps, tips, make reservations, buy a (real) book, set up email auto-responders saying you’ll be away. Then disconnect and stop worrying about wifi or missing your favorite TV shows and go on vacation.”
  10. When you return to your digital life with a new appreciation for how wonderful unplugging can feel, Fast Company advises setting aside technology-free slots in your schedule and time to yourself when you can unplug.

Unoccupied moments are beautiful, so take to scheduling them for a digital detox.