My Struggle with Addiction

One Mississ – Buzzzzzz!!! – Ugh. Let’s try that again. One Miss – Beep beep!!! Seriously? Can I get through one second without – Riiiiiing! Clearly not.

My name is Brittany, I am 21 years old and I have been addicted to social media for seven years. As my mom always asks when I’m home from school, “Does that thing ever stop buzzing?” in regard to my phone. The answer is no. I am constantly getting updates from the Wall Street Journal, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. My phone is with me 24/7, even when I sleep. It has a nice, comfy spot right next to my pillow so I can conveniently see what is going on if it lights up without even having to move an inch. How great is that?! One time I even called my phone to find my phone. Yes, I was attempting to call the device that was located in my hand. Yet my mom consistently forgets about her phone. She is so unattached to her phone that she left it in a completely different state once while traveling. But why is there this addiction to technology and social media for the younger generations?

The answer? We were introduced to social media before we even knew what it was. Remember those Club Penguin and Webkinz days? Oh yeah, you do. Don’t lie. This was when my addiction started. The necessity to take care of my puffle on Club Penguin quickly turned into needing to water my crops on Farmville. I cannot get through a task without making sure that I didn’t miss a notification or that I’ve seen the most recent Snapchat story. Hint: Check out my social media count at the bottom. It’s how many times I’ve checked each social media outlet throughout writing this post. We are unable to escape social media, but why? What are these companies doing that makes it so addictive?

This is what I had hoped to learn when I registered for Professor Kane’s Social Media & Digital Business class, expecting to learn about how each company runs, but after the first class, I knew this class wouldn’t be like any other. So let me run you through a Sparknotes of my thoughts.

1. Registration – A class about Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook? Sweet. Sign me up. This thing will be a piece of cake.
instagram-cake-1

2. Pre-class – Oh wait, this is a class with grad students? I got asked if I was a freshman today. This can’t go well.
giphyworried

3. Canvas – Sees “NOTE: THE COURSE FOR FALL 2017 IS STILL IN DEVELOPMENT. PLEASE DO NOT DO ANYTHING UNTIL THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS WHEN EVERYTHING CAN BE EXPLAINED” Crap.

4. Walking into class – Oh wow, I’m shorter than I thought. Wait, we have to tweet? How many tweets? A blog? A presentation? Reading groups? Snack groups? Comments? Woah, slow down.

5. Walking out of class
isysblog14

But it made me think deeper about social media than I had ever thought before. Where does the addition stem from? It’s an addiction that has consumed me even today. How many steps did you do today is old news. The real question is how far has your thumb scrolled? Ha, I’ll tell you. A Reddit user by the username of TimS194 did the math. He estimated that people spend 90 minutes a day on their phone, which in a two-year period rounds out to 176.5 days of usage. Woah, back up. That’s almost half a year. Can you imagine what we could do with that amount of time? Now, as a social media addict, I can tell you that I definitely spend more than 90 minutes a day on my phone, but I’ll go along with it. He continued to say that he assumed every 5 seconds is equal to 30 centimeters of scrolling. So it turns out that 90 minutes per day multiplied by 30 cm per every 5 seconds for two years is 147 MILES.

Being at a Jesuit school, I can’t help but to think of how many people we could help in those extra 176.5 days if we didn’t spend so much time looking down at a screen. Instead of meeting new people and having conversations, our eyes are fixated on an object that in the long run, does it really even bring us any greater happiness? Do we ever think back to a time we were on our phones that we can say, “Wow, that hour of looking through Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat really enhanced my life.” Probably not. But will this encourage me to stop using social media? Sorry to disappoint those of you reading along who thought I might have come to some magical enlightenment to boycott social media, but simply, the answer is a hard no.

phone die gif

Social media can be used in a beneficial way that most of the people in the generations above me do not recognize. It is how I have been keeping an eye on Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. It is how millions of people watched the Solar Eclipse. It is how we share memories with family members across the country. It is how the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and raised over $220 million for ALS, which led to the discovery of a treatment for ALS patients. It is how GoFundMe has raised over $3 billion since it’s start in 2010. It is how the Red Cross has been able to raise money for disasters that they provide relief for. It is how we keep in sync with the world. For every one reason I think of my addiction to social media as bad, I think of one reason why it’s actually good for learning about other cultures, cities, and countries when you can’t be right in the middle of the story. So to the older generation that looks upon us millennials negatively, it’s time for you to open your eyes and realize that this trend began over 10 years ago, and that it’s not really a bad thing. It’s powerful in a great way and is so much more beyond the surface.

Social Media Count:
• Snapchat: 6
• Twitter: 3
• Facebook: 4
• Instagram: 2

7 comments

  1. I definitely agree with how our generation will never overcome our addiction to social media. It’s pretty crazy how often we check what other people are doing and begs the question of if its purely for curiosity or procrastination’s sake. That being said, it is amazing to think of the impact we might have if we can possibly eradicate the hours spent scrolling and reallocate our time to giving back to the community. Just looking at the kids I know that are growing up today, they spend far less time outside than we did and much more time on their iPads. Maybe ironically social media will suddenly create an outlet help us find a way to break free and give our thumbs a break!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your blog post in an attempt to understand where and why our social media addiction came from, I often ask myself the same questions. You made a really strong point by saying it was introduced without us even really understanding what it was, let alone the magnitude it would have as we transformed from the Webkinz days to Instagram and Facebook feeds. I thought you did a really good job at implementing humor and honesty about social media addiction as well, it was very relatable!

  3. I couldn’t agree more with the addiction problem that our generation is facing, but I seem to have a different view point on the solution. While I acknowledge all the benefits social media you mention above, and there are so many more, what’s truly scary is that half a year usage per two years. Although it is without a doubt the best way to spread communication quickly and efficiently, wouldn’t it be better to put the device down and focus at the tasks at hand? Is it not better to address an addiction and figure out ways to move forward? Imagine if we spent even half the time we did on our phones every day doing something more productive, such as learning another language. Couldn’t all these wasted hours of scrolling go a long way in improving the state of our world?

  4. I’d have to question the math on the 176 days part, but the key point stands. We spend too much time on our phones. I used to dismiss the idea that people could be addicted to social media, but a student presentation in this class convinced me otherwise (connecting it to behavioral addictions like gambling rather than alcohol or drugs). Nice opening post!

  5. This is so great. I too, struggle with getting sucked into my phone on a regular basis and I really liked your point on how there is genuinely more to social media than what many people seem to think! I think its going to be really important over the course of the next few years or even months for us as a society to understand how to be healthy and successfully integrate this awesome tech into our lives.

  6. I loved that you kept live track of how many times you checked social media accounts while writing your blog– it really reinforced what you were saying! Maybe it’s the optimistic side of me, but I too agree with you that social media can be harnessed to good. I was reminded of what Prof. Kane said in class: that people are now more mentally engaged and active, then the decade(s) of sitting in front of the T.V. and just watching sitcoms. Though it is a question of how much mental power does it take to like/scroll… but still, I like this argument that social media/Internet interactions in general have made us more mentally engaged and connected.

    Also, from a grad student perspective, don’t worry at all about us… your post looks so much better then mine I can’t quite get a handle on putting pics/memes in…

  7. Your Sparknotes runthrough is giving me deja vu (including the freshman callout)! Do Not Disturb on my iPhone has been life changing, by the way (though I’m sure you know about it).

    It’s crazy to think that we grew up being inundated with new game invites, tag notifications, friend requests, and even social media network invites. Yet, this new generation just a few years younger than us has developed even more of a dependency on technology than we have. It’ll be very interesting to see how this all plays out!

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