Addiction: Social Media Edition


Associate Editor Jaime Edwards

Before dinner I felt oddly nervous and in a sense naked as my sister and I consciously left our phones in her car before meeting our parents inside. A few minutes into eating I noticed a couple walk in and sit at a table next to us. They sat comfortably for a few moments before they both reached into their pockets and pulled out their iPhones.

My sister and I watched as their communication was based solely on what one was showing the other on their phone. They would type and and then scroll, glancing up every few seconds to make sure their date was still nose deep in their cell phone too. They made it through a whole meal together only exchanging words given to them by memes or captions on Facebook and Instagram.

This was the first day I had deleted every single social media app I had on my phone, and I was starting to see why my decision was necessary. Being fully present and aware is nearly impossible when we have everyone else’s lives to keep up with.

Deactivating all of my accounts made me nervous and uncomfortable. When we think of withdrawal from something, the first correlation that seems to come to mind is drug abuse and the word addiction fits that same category. Is social media just another form of addiction that is used to escape reality just like any other tangible drug?

Less than an hour after deleting my instagram and Facebook I found my fingers idly going to a button that was no longer present and that was my first sign of withdrawal. I was addicted to living every second of my life vicariously through a bright screen.

Considering Facebook has over 2 billion users, Instagram with 800 million, and Twitter over 300 million, it is clear that I am not the only one with a need to escape. Is this escape really anything other than a crutch holding us back from finding who we are and stifling our ability to communicate with people face to face?

Young adults can increase their chance of depression by up to 66% depending on their social media usage time according to Child Mind Institute. Kids and adults feel emotionally isolated when they solely socialize through an electronic device.

I had never understood the link between anxiety, depression, and social media until I gave up that massive part of my life, giving me more time to build a relationship with myself, people I love, and the things I love.

Not only do we need time for face to face contact and the ability to communicate through something other than sliding in someone’s DMs, but we also need time for ourselves. Time to sit back and reflect on our own lives instead of persistently trying to prove we feel better than we actually do by posting a summer photo with the caption “a pineapple a day keeps the worries away.” We consistently attempt to make it look like we have a better life than we do, or the life that everyone else should envy.

Without the constant impulse to open and close an application that only brought feelings of jealousy into my life, I have so much more time to immerse myself in things I love instead. When I have down time I now find myself opening a book. A real book! I even find myself being a better driver, and having almost no temptation to open my phone besides to change the podcasts I am now obsessing over.

It is so interesting to think that I always felt like I had no time. I felt constantly occupied and drained because every second that should be spent to myself was filled by fake news, passive aggressive captions, and pictures of people I don’t even know.

Saying I went dark on social media would be incorrect, instead, I found light in all other aspects of my life. I found that quiet time is something we are deprived of and that hearing my thoughts is something I am able to do again. I found that being in constant contact with everybody only takes away from contact with myself. With the original intent of social media becoming a lost cause, my only solution was none at all.