Social networking sites (SNS) have been so prevalent in our lives that many of us, usually aged 10 to about 30, will think it absurd if challenged to completely stop accessing them! One of my Written English professors remarked about how her 10-year-old daughter exclaimed, "you're taking away my life!" when my professor warned that her daughter's phone will be taken away if she's addicted to it. Well, I would not call it my life but I clearly understand why she would say that.
Our main reason for logging onto social networking sites is simply - to catch up. As our lifestyles become more hectic, taking 2 hours off your schedules to meet each friend face-to-face per week every week is going to be extremely costly to us! We would not have the time to finish the amount of work (*hint hint*) and fulfill other commitments and priorities. We need to juggle work life(such as school work, part-time jobs etc) , social life and personal life (where I classify sleeping, eating and exercising under) all within a limited amount of time. Social networking sites help to connect us to multiple circles of friends at one go! Therefore catching up with our friend's lives is going to be much more efficient through social networking sites.
Another aspect of catching up is also catching up to what's happening around us, be it between our small circles of friends, school events, national issues and even international issues. What is said in these sites actually influences us to talk about it in school or work, sort of like media agenda leading to public agenda and sometimes vice versa! So in order to keep up to what's the hot topic this week or what's the talk of the town, we have almost no choice but to get sucked into the SNS world.
Or do we? "No choice is a choice" which meant that choosing not to do anything about something is still a choice made. Addiction to anything is going to be harmful to you, most of the time when we're hooked onto something, we neglect other aspects of our well-being. When we know that we are aware that we're hooked onto social networking sites, the inductive norm is to stop. However, the implication is that we are aware that we are hooked! Here's a list of telltale indicators that social networking has become an addiction that is taking over our lives:
1. Compromising sleep over checking Facebook or other SNS
Spending an hour or so browsing through your newsfeed or timeline is still acceptable. "Stalking" our friends' profiles to find out how they've been doing, or just plainly curious as to how they have changed, is still okay! But if you start using more of your valuable waking hours aimlessly surfing Facebook, then it's time to reexamine your lifestyle.
The issue gets worse if you sacrifice sleep for browsing Facebook. I can definitely vouch for doing this. Each time I sleep late is because I have spent the last three waking hours scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Youtube aimlessly, as though I am looking for something...to which I will not! I subconsciously catch myself thinking "stay awake! Look through Facebook first, it'll be quick" when my body is obviously tired and zoning out. Lack of sleep will definitely affect your performance in school and work, why do something that is working against you! Sometimes if you find yourself struggling with the lack of time and energy to perform diligently in school or at work, reflect on the amount of hours you spend looking at SNS, you might need to reassess that.
2. Compromising offline social life
Though social networking sites increase efficiency of maintaining relationships, they are not going to increase the quality of these relationships. There are just some things that cannot be shared over mediated communication platforms. So many of the times, I find myself enjoying a satisfying heart-to-heart talk with a good friend in a face-to-face communication environment because seeing each other face-to-face gives us many more accurate nonverbal cues and also we are not pressured to rush through or cut down on what we want to chat about. Face-to-face communication is a far richer experience than communicating online.
If you find yourself browsing through Instagram over a coffee or dinner appointment with your friends, then do yourself a favor and smack yourself on the head!
3. Excessive friend building and wall posts
I once had a 'Facebook friend' (knew him through a one-off friendly interaction) who, perhaps was going through a phase then, updates his status once every five minutes for intervals of one or two hours. I had to scroll through all his statuses before I could read any other status updates, wall posts or sharings and that could take me up to a good 30 seconds.
Sometimes people find that their prominence on SNS is an ego-related thing, and the need to build up an online friend army is a social need, in order to represent what they want in real life - being popular or having a lot of friends. But know this - that is not true.
If you find yourself actively searching for people to be "friends" with, or looking for followers on Twitter, by 'promoting' yourself through excessive wall posts or have "retweet this and I will follow you!" tweets, pleeeease please find some help!!
Social Networking Sites, on a personal level, are extremely useful in efficient friendship maintenance and it makes building your network and marketing your business that much easier. However, it is very important to be aware of your level of personal involvement and also know that you have a choice, no matter what, to kick the addiction.