A recent article argued that Social Media should be banned for those under 16. Outrage!
What are the warning signs that we have been imprisoned by our screens? Is it possible that the addiction to social media could be harming our physical, mental and spiritual world? I would be the first to admit that there are worse activities such as mindlessly TV channel-surfing.But I have noticed the addiction in others!
You all make so many excuses for spending so much time online. For many people this is not a cause for anxiety at all. We are increasingly cyborgian, and any wish to return to the old ways (3-5 years ago) is nothing but a futile, hopeless and romantic nostalgia.
Having allocated myself a timetable that now stipulates a progressive increase in my time away from the screen I have noticed an improvement in my general health and sense of well-being. Perhaps the experience of having recovered from cancer last year has led me to rethink the primacy of direct interaction with people, rather than digital mediation. I'm certainly not a luddite by any means, but I may well be a social media recovering addict.
Don't take this too seriously. You may even object to the use of addiction in this regard. I'm interested to hear your thoughts, online or off.
So here is my personal and rather intuitive list of symptoms that might be associated with an unhealthy addiction.
Have you experienced any of these symptoms in the last year?
Or perhaps you have noticed these characteristics in other people?
- Repetitive Strain Injury
- Back Pains and other discomfort associated with a screen-based lifestyle
- Delusional sense of exhilaration associated with the online flow of interactions
- Being online is my first activity of the day
- Being online is my last activity of the day
- Spending an hour or more online without being aware of the passage of time
- Less comfortable with face-to-face encounters
- Sense of being awed or overwhelmed by the abundance offered by the internet
- Being online while you are speaking to friends or family on the phone
- Being online while watching TV, or listening to music
- Convinced that multi-tasking is an effective way to work
- Decreased length and frequency of direct encounters with people
- Increase in weight, BMI, or change in body shape and general fitness
- Constantly mobile connected and status updating
- Missing deadlines for work, or failing to meet your own objectives
- Increased tendency to procrastinate, with less efficient productivity
- Increase in irritability, stress, and anxiety; decrease in patience and listening skills
- Frequently checking in online, at every opportunity
- Sense that life is becoming fragmentary or hollow
- Decreased attention span and ability to focus on major project requiring sustained effort
- Preference for micro-engagement rather than in depth reflection.
I'd be delighted to hear your views, or meet with you face--to--face.
Perhaps you could keep a note of how much time you spend online and then question its genuine value to your life?
Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) Also available on Kindle, or to download.
Also worth a look: The PhD Roadmap: A Guide to Successful Submission of your Dissertation / Thesis.
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© Dr Ian McCormick.