Social Media: A Different Kind of Pandemic

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https://authenticmedicine.com/2020/10/addiction-to-social-media/

It’s no secret that iPhones and other technological devices have become addictive. In fact, we are living in the middle of a social dilemma. Since the start of COVID-19, according to Emarketer.com, phone usage has gone up tremendously. The average American spends almost three hours per day staring at their cellular device. Not to mention how we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the time spent on any kind of technological gadget since winter 2020. “Finding funny or entertaining content is the third most popular reason we go on social media today (33%), just behind filling up spare time (34%)” says Viktoriya Trifonova from Global Web Index.  It’s no doubt that the pandemic has caused a significant disturbance in our society as well as daily habits. Not being able to hang out with many of our friends and family members caused us to become dependent on our devices. Unfortunately, this is exactly what social media companies want to happen to us. 

For instance, let’s think about what happens when you put your phone down for ten minutes – you usually get an alert that causes you to get right back into scrolling, right? Maybe this notification says something like, “Your friend ______ just joined Instagram! Would you like to follow them?” or “______ just posted for the first time in a while.” Social media companies alert you with this so that you can get right back on their platform and earn them some more money. 

The fact of the matter is that while we use our devices, our brain is releasing dopamine. The new documentary on Netflix called “The Social Dilemma” compares social media usage to being addicted to a hardcore drug like cocaine. There is an obvious difference, but the psychological effects are actually quite similar. It starts with something along the lines of impulse, then leads to continuous usage, and ultimately, withdrawal.

Teens, parents, and even small children are becoming addicted to technology. At a young age, many kids are given a communication device which gets to be more handy as the years pass. We are creating a rather horrifying generation of people who act like zombies when put in front of a screen. Not to mention how it is hurting our social skills. In-person conversations are becoming more awkward and uncomfortable to people who use their phones as their main source of communication and socialization.

Not only is too much screen time bad for one’s physical state, but it greatly impacts one’s mental capability as well. Although social media seems like it could be a way for users to escape reality for a little bit, it causes way too many people to become anxious or even depressed. Many teens use platforms like Instagram and TikTok to become like verified users. For some people, this includes having more than the average amount of followers and getting an impressive amount of likes. Snapchat is creating a virtually misleading world with its filters. These can be fun when using it for a good laugh or adding an extra glow, however, chaotic when playing a catfish. For example, someone can use a filter to change their eye or even hair color. Besides using filters, Snapchat has become the place to create “streaks” which are becoming quite popular yet stressful. The company is literally forcing you to use their app every single day in order to “keep your streaks.” This is how demanding social media has become. 

Overall, this year, we have been spending an excessive amount of time on social media and devices in general. COVID-19 has caused us to rely on our phones, computers, and TVs more than ever before. If we keep it up, everyone will be walking in the streets with their heads down and eyes hypnotised by their phones.