When I was younger, there was a strict ‘no Social Media’-rule in my household. “Get away from that stupid computer, go outside!”, my mother would say. After years of begging, complaining and guilt-tripping, I was finally allowed to have a Hyves-profile. This is a Dutch platform that basically works like Facebook or Twitter, just without feeds. You can chat, visit profiles, play games, fill in cute questionnaires about your friends (‘If I were a piece of fruit, what would I be?’), et cetera.
As I grew older, international platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat made their entrance in the Netherlands. My friends and I keenly subscribed to all of it. It started out fun: one could stay in touch with international buddies, look up old classmates, find many, many pictures of Samoyed puppies: these media were something I actively enjoyed.
At least in the first stages. I lived in this bubble of excitement that science had brought us this far and that it had made the world so accessible. This positive image of social media first started to crack when my friends would be more interested in their phones than catching up during our lunch breaks.
That sucked, but what can you do? I felt above this behavior; I would never take out my phone when someone was talking. I understood how tempting it was, just never felt the need to do it myself.
This attitude made me oblivious to my own behavior. As I grew older, I slowly became the rudest person around regarding social media. I became that person that always grabbed her phone mid-talking. I was the one compulsively checking my phone for messages from my crush. Yet, even at this point, I genuinely believed I was the only one who did not have a problem.
When mobile data became available, it only got worse. I checked my feed when I was waiting for the bus. Waiting in line for the toilet. Waiting for the elevator. Even if waiting took less than a minute, I would dig up that thing from the bottom of my bag and scroll as fast as I could.
What started out as something enjoyable and fun had become my way of coping with time without a specific activity. When there was the slightest chance of being bored, I anticipated by presenting myself with an immense amount of information. A silence of approximately 3 seconds at parties was my cue to check Instagram, a friend lighting a cigarette permitted me to watch Snapchat Stories.
It had become addictive.
And that’s no surprise. Let’s look at some numbers : in 2017, 29% of 18 to 24-year-olds were addicted to social media in their own view. Of all participants, 29% claimed to spend 3 to 5 hours a day on social media, 8.7% 3 to 5 hours.
There are severe consequences bound to a Social Media addiction. There is a significant relationship between high usage of SNS (Social Network Sites) and grade percentages . People who spend more time on these sites were perceived as less involved with their real-life communities . Its effect on romantic relationships can be very negative as well. A significant association was found between time spent on Facebook and jealousy-related feelings towards one’s partner . Research shows a positive correlation between ratings on BFAS, the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, and neuroticism . It also appears to be intertwined with general satisfaction: the more one is addicted to social media, the less satisfied they are in life .
Common Sense Media made a report of a nationally representative survey of more than a thousand kids, age 13-17 . Some of the findings:
– 57% of participants agreed with statement that using social media often distracts them when they should be doing homework
– 54% of teen social media users agree that it often distracts them when they should be paying attention to the people they’re with
– 42% of teens agree that social media has taken away from time they could spend with friends in person
Time to go
It took me a couple years to realize how badly my Social Media behavior influenced my day-to-day life. Next to the compulsive checking of updates, I also developed some tics; bouncing my leg, fidgeting with my hands, nail-biting. My self-esteem dropped, causing jealousy and a general feeling of discontent.
Three weeks ago, I deleted everything.
You know how parents almost always turn out to be right? My mom certainly was. Social media have a lot of advantages, but are corporate organizations in the end. They are designed to make you love them. And you will. Make sure your time on Social Media is something you actively enjoy, not an activity chosen to overrun some time. If you find yourself nervous when you can’t access your SNS, experiencing insecurities or general discontent, developing neurotic tics: it might be wise to do some detoxing, or even delete it altogether.
Waiting on the elevator sometimes results in conversation with a kind neighbor. Sometimes it’s just boring, but that’s okay. Not every moment in life needs to be exciting. Doing some homework whilst waiting for the bus turns out to be very useful. But above all: since I quit, I’ve met three Samoyeds.
Fall is coming. Vegetation will be painted in earth’s most beautiful colors. The rain showers will return, and it will be very cold every now and then.
Enjoy or endure, but above all: go outside!
1. CBS (Statistics Netherlands) published their results found in the national survey ‘Perceptions’. Source: https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/news/2018/20/more-and-more-young-adults-addicted-to-social-media
2. Karani, P.K. and S. Sumana 2015. Effect of Social Networking Site on Students’ Academic performances in Sims, Mangalore: an Investigative Study. Ge-international Journal of Management Research, volume 3.
3. Kuss, D.J. and M.D. Griffiths 2011. Online Social Networking and Addiction – a Review of the Psychological Literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health.
4. Muise, A., E. Christofides and S. Desmarais 2009. More Information than You Ever Wanted: Does Facebook Bring Out the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy? CyberPsychology & Behaviour, volume 12.
5. Andreassen, C.S. 2012. Development of a Facebook Addiction Scale. Psychological Reports, 2012, 110, 2, 501-517.
6. Şahin, C 2017. The Predictive Level of Socail Media Addiction for Life Satisfaction: A Study on University Students. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, volume 16.
7. Rideout, V.M.A. and M.B. Robb 2018. Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal their Experiences. CA: Common Sense Media.