Why this obsession with the social media?

Sonia Ambrosio – soniambrosio@gmail.com – Have you been feeling a decreased level of patience? Low attention span? Road rage? These are some of the most common effects of social media addiction.
Ok, you can’t recognise any of the signs mentioned; but yes, you do spend long hours on social networking sites, you also feel a kind of emotional attachment to the mobile phone — like it is the most important thing in your life; you keep constantly checking on who is saying what; you’re anxious to count shares, likes, and tags. These actions relate to social obsession.
With information and communication technology (ICT) on top of our daily life, it is easy to track what friends and competitors are doing. Interest and curiosity about who is doing what in their social circles have a significant emotional motivation to keep one connected.
The fear of missing out (FOMO) can set off a sense of hypersensitive and the person will think he or she is not ‘popular’ — there is a sense of social pressure that we have to be involved.
This feeling is especially true for teens. If teens feel they are missing out, they may develop anxiety, stress or sleep disorders, cyberpsychologists
claim.
So, in social networking, the need to be linked in, to feel connected and in control of own form of interaction and self-expression, and the promotion of self, gyrate around the understanding that social media is an addiction that feeds off on the fear of being left out.
We actually live in a ‘Me’ society with an obsession for the ‘self’ that drives us to update our status and tag ourselves in photos that we look good.
There is this sense of uneasiness when not tagged, or angry when not got an instant response to a text. A ‘Like’ or a ‘Share’, or a ‘Favourite’ is a social signal that makes us feel good.
French philosopher Michel Foucault departed from a reading of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism to speak of technologies of the self — techniques by which people manipulate their bodies, minds and behaviour to reach some ideal perfection.
In the article Online Social Networking and Addiction — A review of the Psychological Literature, Daria Kuss and Mark Griffiths argue that the appeal of social networks could potentially be a cause for concern, particularly when considering the increasing amounts of time we spend online. People engage in a variety of activities, some of which may be potentially addictive.
Rather than becoming addicted to the medium per se, users develop an obsession to specific activities such as web surfing, online gambling, online shopping, pornography, and online relationships. Several online environments offer unique and compelling features that promote frequent use.
For Ciarán Mc Mahon, a cyberpsychologist researcher with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the major factors driving the popularity of social media usage are fundamentally psychological. In her article, Why we do ‘like’ social media?, she argues that people do and say things on the Internet that they probably would not do in a face-to-face environment.
Older people may become dependent on the Internet and the online social networking as well. It is true that some seniors use the Internet to bridge geographic gap between them and loved ones. Studies have shown that the Internet has become an important portal for reducing isolation and loneliness; however, the elderly might also fall prey to risky situations.
So, a Foucauldian analysis of social media today would have notions of power and governance, says Ciaran Mc Mahon while citing the example of LinkedIn, as a professional, and business-oriented social media site used for marking personal progress and improvement.
It is undeniable that there are many positive aspects of social networking, and solid benefits of the Internet; however, there are effects that need to be talked about.
It is important to grasp on how rapid technological changes are affecting us, creating anxiety and dependency, while enticing us to expose
personal information, and unleashing online ‘disinhibition’.