New Digital Addictions: Facebook, Twitter and the Social Networking World!
With all the new technology that has emerged over the past few decades, it seems almost impossible to keep up. There’s 24 hour television, video games galore, cell phones that keep you connected at all times and of course the internet with its copious branches of information that can be hypnotic. Now the question is: are you addicted?...
Of course the answer is going to be yes because life as we know it today does not work without some connection to the internet and these technologies. So now the question becomes are you addicted to the latest branch of the internet? Yes I’m talking about social networking. Do you find yourself checking Facebook the moment you wake up? How about staying up late catching up on your Twitter feed? Do you constantly need to update your status or tweet your every thought? If you said yes don’t feel bad there’s many of us out there, myself included! The availability of access to these social networking sites and the easy features to share thoughts, pictures, and even locations is so alluring and simple that many get sucked in. As ridiculous as it is, I’ve found myself checking twitter while standing in line for the restroom at a bar even updating Facebook during family dinners and I bet many of you have done the same!
Science is slowly proving how addictive the internet and social networking can be but I bet you many, especially those that went almost a week without power due to Hurricane Irene, agree they have an addiction. When you are worrying about how you will tweet or update your status when your cell phone runs out of battery during a long term power outage, you realize how deep the tentacles of social networking have entrenched into you. In my own personal experience I have tried to rid myself o this addiction to social networking. I wouldn’t say I failed, because I am very proud of the three weeks I stayed off Facebook, but then again I’m still using it more than ever…
About two years ago, right around Christmas time, I decided to take a break from Facebook. It was a time when I was waiting to hear from grad school applications and was in a funk because it seemed my life was on hold while all my friends on Facebook seemed to have something going on. This being a side effect of social networking, in that you get consumed with comparing and viewing other’s lives to your own. So I went to delete my profile on Facebook, of course Facebook doesn’t allow your profile to be truly deleted. Instead Facebook, as if they know you’re addicted, says they’ll take down your page but will keep it just out of reach. This way, as soon as you type your email and password into Facebook, everything is back online. So here I was ready to take a break from Facebook, I told myself I would go two weeks, just so I wasn’t so consumed by it. So when I made it all the way to the third week with no Facebook I was thrilled!! Anyone impressed? Well not so fast, although I was off Facebook for a few weeks, I had a social networking safety net called Twitter. Twitter gave me an outlet to stay connected to the internet in a different way but I was still connected! Years late I find it even harder to disconnect from Facebook and Twitter. With more and more family on both networks, it’s becoming a more important communication line between family members and friends, which means it’s harder to just go cold turkey. So if we can’t disconnect completely then there must be some small things we can do. Below is a list of some suggestions for helping disconnect.
-Get Physical! Go for a walk or run, no phone, no iPod just you and the outdoors, not only will you disconnect, you’ll get exercise too!
-Meet face to face! Stop texting, tweeting and facebooking back and forth. Make a point to see your family or friends, if possible, face to face and have a decent conversation.
-Have a designated time to disconnect, say on a weekend from 12pm to 3pm, all phones off, no computers on.
-If you’re old enough to remember a world without social networking, think back to what you use to do with your time, read a book, paint, garden, even collect stamps!
The key is to gather hobbies that are not technology dependent. If you can do that and fill some of your time, even just an hour a week, I promise you will feel healthier and more alive, not to mention less addicted to social networking. So if you want to loosen the puppet strings of social networking and can’t go cold turkey at least try a few hours a week without the temptation within your grasp! Good Luck!