Local view: Social media overdose can be deadlySocial networking is like a drug. Are you high on YouTube videos or addicted to Facebook stalking? Do you get a buzz from sending out tweets? Many partake in some form of social media, and some of us engage in it too often.
By: Haley Schroeder, for the News Tribune
Social networking is like a drug. Are you high on YouTube videos or addicted to Facebook stalking? Do you get a buzz from sending out tweets? Many partake in some form of social media, and some of us engage in it too often. Social media accounts for more than 22.5 percent of our time spent online in the U.S., according to a 2011 Nielsen finding.
Little do many realize that overdosing on social media is dangerous and has the potential to become deadly. The same symptoms of alcoholism can be seen in social networking. Social networking can be detrimental to the human population and is analogous to alcohol and its damaging effects.
Like alcohol, social networking is addictive.
Research indicates people who use social media regularly display symptoms of alcohol and drug addiction.
In a 2011 Moeller study, researchers deprived 1,000 college students from 10 countries on five continents any contact with social media for 24 hours. After the 24-hour period, the students were asked to report their successes as well as their failures. A majority of participants reported they quickly started to exhibit some dangerous patterns typical of alcohol and drug addicts. The symptoms were both psychological and physical. They included anxiety, fear, coldness, feelings of isolation and feelings of being on a diet.
Research such as this raises questions about whether social-networking addiction should become a classified mental disorder.
Researchers are working on including it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but further research data is needed.
Alcohol also has been reported to be a factor in a majority of violent acts. The same sort of violence can be seen in social networking via cyber-bullying, which occurs most often among young people. When an adult is involved, it is often referred to as cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking and can result in legal consequences. Cyber-bullying is an electronic form of bullying through the use of social media. In the past year, 43 percent of teens were victims of cyber-bullying, according to 2012 findings.
Although victims of cyber-bullying aren’t physically hurt, there are many serious psychological effects. These include lower self-esteem, anxiety, depression and other stress-related disorders. Some people even have resorted to suicide.
Furthermore, alcohol shortens our attention span and impairs our memory. Social networking affects our brains in a similar way. A neuroscientist from the University of Oxford believes social media use may be changing the way our brains work by shortening our attention span and encouraging “instant gratification” and loss of empathy. This neuroscientist also believes technology may be behind the disturbing rise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which is a range of problem behaviors associated with poor attention span. Many of us experience similar symptoms daily by using Facebook and other social-networking sites as a distraction to avoid responsibilities.
Additionally, like alcohol, social networking can cause depression. Social networking depression is becoming more evident as research progresses. Research this year argues Facebook is making us sad. Many people who use Facebook often see others as happier and living better lives. This is directly associated with the pictures that our Facebook friends are posting, as most pictures typically depict a sense of happiness. It doesn’t matter whether the smiling is fake or real; humans have a habit of overestimating other people’s happiness. These same researchers found that the more time a participant spends on Facebook, the more he or she is likely to believe others are happier and more successful.
Social networking is like alcohol. It’s OK in moderation. However, just like alcohol, it is possible to overdose on social media. The next time you find yourself uncontrollably prowling through Facebook pages or tweeting about someone or something you don’t like, I urge you to ask yourself: “Is social media controlling too much of my life?” Like a bad drinking habit, the consumption of social media has the ability to invade your life and can even cause death under extreme circumstances if caution is not used. So, please, click in moderation.
Haley Schroeder is a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth, majoring in psychology and minoring in communication. She has an interest in the effects of media on psychological behavior.