Social Media addiction: It’s how, not how much, we engage

Social Media addiction: It’s how, not how much, we engage

A student in my MMS160 Social Media Explored class recently posted a link to this story on Facebook addiction. It’s a worthy read.

She also posed the question about escapism as it pertains to the usage of social media? A tough query, to be sure, as we all know that downtime and escaping from the noise in our daily lives is good, if you can call time on Twitter escape.

I think that occasionally taking a break from one’s daily routine in the form of catching up with friends, family and colleagues via social media, the web or mobile can help stay grounded and in touch with what is happening in the lives of those we care about.

However, repeated, prolonged sessions of reliance on this digital engagement can be detrimental to our well-being, and remove us from the real world around us. If a user creates a world of “friends” and “followers” who are their main (or only) connection to the world, they enter into a fantasy world that could be harmful to them on many levels.

I spend 20-30 minutes a day on Twitter and Facebook, mostly reading headlines, sharing content with peers or colleagues, and engaging in the discussion of the day (weather, the Oscars, a TV show). Is this escapism? Maybe a little. But for the most part, this is how I (and a growing number of people) consume and share information every day.

I rarely watch the local TV news or catch the top-of-the-hour radio broadcast because their headlines are delivered direct to my feed, or at least they should be. And when it comes to conversation, I see Twitter and Facebook as a simple way to engage with colleagues who I might previously have shared e-mails with. Surely we all remember the days before social media when we would send a funny YouTube video to people because that was the best way to reach them. No longer – just hit the share button.

Long story short, I think that how we use tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and Path and Foursquare and on and on – to learn, share, interact and thrive – determines our level of addiction, not necessarily how much time we spend with these mediums.

What do you think? Is your use of social media “addictive,” productive or otherwise? Share your thoughts.

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