I recently read a study that was conducted regarding social media and the apparent correlation with addiction and emotional deregulation. What the researchers found was that the people who spent increased time on social media sites such as Facebook displayed problems linked with emotional regulation, impulse control, and substance abuse. This is a pretty interesting correlation when you look at the the fact that more than 800 million people using Facebook daily.
What seems to be the underlying issue with social media is the built in reward system that keeps people coming back for more. This is quite apparent on Facebook with all the messages, notfications, friend request, etc.. that are bombarding the user in an effort to keep them engaged. The environment that is created through this type of rewards system is one of a positive feedback loop that maintains a continual distraction. This distraction moves us further and further off purpose in our lives while at the same time making us feel more out of control.
Many people in the world today are not on purpose and they are reaching to stimulants that provide this short term value which quenches their thirst for acceptance and glimpse of purpose. The problem is that this value you get from social media is built on a very unstable foundation. There is no true connection that comes from the relationships that are built. Rather there is this great ease to be able to move in and out of the drama and excitement that is created without having really any long term meaningful association produced. The result from engaging in this repetitive environment is problems with emotional regulation, impulse control and substance abuse. Thus people will feel more depressed/anxious, have increased sugar and sweet cravings, drink more alcohol and use more drugs.
Here is a way to determine whether you or someone you care about is having a problem with social media, ask these questions.
1) Has someone asked or have you thought to yourself that I need to “Cut down” on my social media use?
2)Has someone expressed an “Annoyance” with your social media use?
3)Have you felt “Guilty” for the amount of time that you spend on social media”
4)Have you felt the need to prioritize checking your social media account upon waking in the morning”
If you answer yes to 2 out 4 of these questions, your relationship with social media is impacting your health. Consider doing something different to find joy and purpose in your life. Unplug from the drama and excitement to allow yourself better perspective on where you find meaning.