10 October 2014

Why Are We All So Addicted To Social Media?

The first thing I do in the morning is check my iPhone for messages, notifications and Snapchats. When I go on holiday my first question is, will there be WiFi? And the thought of a long journey without any phone battery is my idea of a nightmare. Some people probably think that's really sad but in reality most people my age are the same. I barely use my phone for calls or texts anymore. I've just started working in a phone shop and it's not minutes or texts customers ask about, it's data. It's all about the internet. It's about social media. 

There are so many different platforms, each with their own uses and attractions. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Whatsapp, LinkedIn and the list goes on and on. These are just some that I use on a regular basis. In fact I would probably check each of them daily and some more than 5 times a day. An addiction is "the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice" and I wouldn't say it's a stretch to describe my relationship with social media this way. I also wouldn't call my situation unique, in fact I'd probably call it common. The question is, why are we all so addicted to social media?

It's continuous.
It's a bit like those online games we all used to play when we were younger. I'm thinking of FarmVille but there are loads of different variations of the same sort of thing.  Even though you're not always playing, the game keeps going without you. You have to harvest your crops or you will lose the money you spent planting them. If we think even further back, it's a bit like Tamagotchis (although my parents never actually let me have one). You have to keep playing the game to keep your digital pet alive. Social media has a similar enchantment. People are continuously uploading new pictures, statuses, pins, videos etc.. Somehow, masterminds like Mark Zuckerberg have managed to create the feeling that you might miss something if you don't keep checking back. Although the pictures of your old university friends' crazy nights out are still going to be there 3 weeks later, who wants to be the last one to see them? 

Social media makes you feel connected.
It's called social for a reason. It's all about the connections you can make and keep. Social Media's common aim is to bring people together, to share ideas and create networks. Most people have times when they are alone, whether it's once a day, a week or a month.  Some people enjoy this peace and quiet, some don't. With social media, you don't have to be alone. You can spark up conversations with people all around the world. It's this opportunity to communicate with people you don't see regularly in a fun way that has surpassed email or snail mail. Most people like to have lots of friends and social media is an easy way to stay in contact with them all. But you have to keep going back to that site to stay connected. Let's say you meet someone new on a night out, you get introduced by a mutual friend, chat for a while and then go your separate ways. If you know their name, or even if you don't, you could probably find them online by search through your mutual friend's profile. If you send them a friend request on Facebook, you'll have to keep using Facebook to contact them unless you ask for their number or email, which could be a bit too soon, I mean you've only met them once? And that's how social media draws you in. 

Social media gives you freedom.
There are things that are normally socially unacceptable that become okay on social media. I'm not talking about being rude or mean. But stalking through someone's old photos on Facebook is completely fine. You can get away with reading through all of someone's tweets for the last month without anyone knowing what you're doing. There is so much information about people on social media nowadays and that's what makes it so popular. It gives you much more freedom than the real world and you can express yourself in any way you choose. You can be whoever you want to be and say whatever you want to say (as long as it's not offensive). Social media provides the freedom that people crave in life and that freedom is what makes it so likeable and addictive. 

Who can tell what the future has in store for social media or whether in 10 years time we will all have forgotten about Facebook. All I know is, it's pretty addictive right now. 


  1. People being able to show off has got to be the biggest attraction to social media.

  2. Very true, a lot of people do tend to use social media to boast about their happiness/life/situation but I'm not sure if this is an addictive feature or just an attraction as you have put it. Can people be addicted to showing off?