Take a good look at this picture.
Your first thought might be that one of these things is not like the others. But look again, and keep this picture in your mind as you read this post.
Mentalhelp.net defines addiction as:
“…the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.” (1).
- You get on Facebook even though you know you’re going to end up in an argument with your cousin over the new president and his border policies.
- You click the Twitter app just to go investigate something rude that someone subtweeted about you despite the fact that you know it will make you angry.
- You open that email sent by a work colleague you despise knowing that you would be better off to delete it rather than fighting fire with fire.
The list goes on and on and on, but all of these things fall under the umbrella of addiction. You repeatedly involve yourself with something despite the harm it causes because your mind has fooled you into thinking that the activity is somehow good for you.
Now I know you might be wondering… “Wait your last post was about how the church should use social media and now you’re bashing it as an addiction??”
So let me clarify…. Social media becomes an addiction when it is no longer beneficial but harmful to you, and you choose to participate in it anyway. When used correctly, social media is an amazing tool, but when used incorrectly it is an addictive trap.
Matthew Anderson in his chapter in The New Media Frontier writes on the cautions we should have concerning social media: “Those who spend any amount of time absorbing new media quickly discover their subtly addictive nature.” (59).
Technology addiction does not happen all at once. It happens over a long period of time when you choose to ignore the destruction it is bringing upon your life.
Researchers did a study of over 1,000 college students at 12 different campuses in 10 different countries to observe the effects of technology, namely social media, on students. (See article on this study here) The students were asked to refrain from using their cell phones for 24 hours and were interviewed at the end of that time. Check out this very stark statement from one of the participants:
“I am an addict. I don’t need alcohol, cocaine or any other derailing form of social depravity… Media is my drug; without it I was lost.” (3).
So…think you’re not addicted?
Try to go 24 hours without any form of technology and see if you feel anything like this one student. If you do, you’re addicted.
If you keep going back to social media even though you know it’s harmful to you, you’re addicted.
Social media can be great and extremely beneficial when handled appropriately, but be careful lest you find yourself intoxicated by it…