Social media: Are we addicted?

How much is too much? As a society, we are constantly surrounded by social media. We are immediately aware of every notification that comes through our phones, whether they are Instagram follow requests, Snapchat streaks, or someone sending you a funny Tik-Tok. We are always in the presence of social media, but how do we know if we have become addicted?

An article from CNN, titled Facebook went offline this week. Experts say we should log out, too, touched on the Facebook outage that occurred early this month and how people were affected by it.

According to Ian Kerner, a marriage and family therapist, the break society had to take from a social media network demonstrated the great reliance the world has on being able to scroll and post.

He continued by explaining that social media allows us to escape from our daily lives, whether it is to connect with family and friends, distract ourselves, or deal with the stress and anxiety people struggle with daily.

“‘People find that they are alone with their own thoughts,’” elaborated Kerner. “‘And they’re a little bit of a stranger to themselves in a way.’”

The addiction to social media affects society as a whole, not just individuals. We are constantly seeing unrealistic standards that we wish to live up to which only leads us down a path full of self-doubt and fear about what other people think.

An article from The New York Times, titled Worried About Your Teen on Social Media? Here’s How to Help, referenced a Wall Street Journal article focusing on researchers at Instagram who studied the tolls social media takes on young people.

“According to the research, which was not publicly released, Instagram makes body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls,” Christina Caron, the reporter of the article, stated. “And among teenagers who reported suicidal thoughts, ‘13 percent of British users and 6 percent of American users traced the desire to kill them-selves to Instagram,’ the Journal reported.”

Although social media may be helpful in many ways, there are obvious negative downsides, especially when many people panic when they lose their phones or are logged out of their accounts. It only enhances the fear of missing out more.

On the other hand, many people feel a strong wave of relief when they do not feel the pressure to be connected at all times through social media. These people may understand how essential it is to connect with others in-person.

“‘People realized in real time the importance of face-to-face relationships, and the relative emptiness of a connection that takes place solely via Facebook or Instagram,’” explained therapist John Duffy on people during the outage.

In the same CNN article, a Stanford University professor and Medical Director of Addiction Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine noted the connection between the brain and human connection.

“‘We can verifiably show that human connections stimulate dopamine release, which is how they are reinforcing, and anything that stimulates dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway has the potential to be addictive,’” Dr. Anna Lembke indicated.

When it comes to social media and the affect it has on an individual, how much is too much? Are you too invested and over-involved on a daily basis?