The very first thing you do when you wake up is reach for your phone (always by the side of your bed, in fact — usually under your pillow) and check how many times your witty comment from the night before has been re-tweeted or liked. You do this before you have left the bed, let alone rolled over and kissed your loved one.
The addictive aspect of social networking is associated with FOMO — fear of missing out. Everyone is on Social Media…Facebook, Twitter,Instagram,Tinder, Tagged e.t.c They’re posting things, sharing news and content and talking to each other 24/7.
You may think, “I’m not addicted, I can quit anytime!” Well if you have more Facebook friends than real friends, something must be done. If you spend more time on Twitter than in sunlight, it’s time for change. If you spend more time working on your LinkedIn profile than doing actual work, it’s time for an intervention.
In the world of social networking, Facebook benefits most from network effect. Facebook happened to be the top social network when social networking busted out as a mainstream activity. Now, everybody’s on Facebook because everybody’s on Facebook. And even people who don’t like the social network use it anyway, because that’s where their family, friends and colleagues are — and because of addiction.
One trick social networks use is a notification number, showing you the number of people at a glance who have mentioned or followed you.
Notification numbers appear on the app icon to draw you in, then on the top or bottom menu to draw you in further. They play the same psychological trick on you that click-bait headlines do — they tell you that there’s information you really want to know, but they don’t tell you enough to satisfy.
Notification numbers work just like that. Seeing a red “3” on the Facebook notifications bar is like a click-bait headline: “You won’t believe what three people have said about you.” You’ve got to click or tap. It’s compulsive. And over time, it becomes addictive.
The biggest tool in the social media addition toolbox is algorithmic filtering. Sites like Facebook, Google+ and, soon, Twitter, tweak their algorithms, then monitor the response of users to see if those tweaks kept them on the site longer or increased their engagement. We’re all lab rats in a giant, global experiment.
How to kick the habit
Social media addiction is real, and it can damage careers, degrade life and even harm relationships.
For most of us, though, we’re simply being manipulated by the social sites and content creators to waste far too much time in a way that benefits them, not us.
The best solution I’m aware of is to visit social networking sites once per day. There is just one solution. Schedule it. And keep track of how much time you’re spending there.
Try it. And if you succeed, you’re on your way to beating addiction.
And if you can’t stick to your once-a-day habit, well, it sounds like you’ve got an addiction problem.
To use social media in a healthier way, take a break from time to time and remind one’s self what it is like to be “unplugged.” Also, remember that the person is in charge of technology, not the other way around.