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When Netflix is more fun than friends

Social anxiety, FOMO and tech addiction in 2018

You can’t wait.

Time couldn’t crawl any slower.

 

You try to contain your excitement as the day comes to a close, and you get home, under the sheets, plug in your headphones and step into a world filled with drama, suspense, mystery, romance.

 

The doorbell rings. Who could it be? You could just open the door and find out. But, the second episode of Riverdale starts to auto play. You turn off the lights, turn up the volume and pretend you aren’t home.

 

You do this most nights and weekends.

You’ve cancelled all other plans for your hot date. With Netflix.

Avoiding social interaction is just one of the many symptoms of overuse of technology.

“…kids born after 1995 don’t go out as much, they don’t drink as much, they don’t get driver’s licenses, they don’t have sex. What do they do? They’re on their devices.”

Johnathan Haidt, social psychologist and author of ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ in this interview says.

The numbers confirm that about about 30% of high school students in the U.S. who use social media, spend more than 15 hours per week online. This was time that could (or would have be spent, if it were the 80’s!) being outdoors, socializing, exercising, finding new interests, spending time with loved ones, etc.

Focus

You know how when you’re in the middle of a conversation, you get a DM, and your attention has immediately left the building?  This constant inability to stay in the moment is not just a case of being ‘distracted’. Scientists found that Internet addiction is associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder- what you probably know as ADHD. As many as 1 in 10 children have ADHD, which means, our devices are turning us all into easily bored, distracted, novelty-seekers, unable to pay attention to something for a long period of time.

Sleep

“Internet addiction and other problematic internet use behaviors can have important influence on the sleep-wake program, leading to sleeplessness and other sleep disorders.” – Iranian Journal of Public Health

Everyone who has ever found themselves at the end of a cliff hanger episode, or stumbled upon your ex’s latest holiday picture, at 2 AM, knows the feeling of foregoing sleep for scrolling or streaming. The internet is designed to offer a bevy of distractions that leads you spiraling into a rabbit hole of one entertaining and informative thing to another, constantly giving you gratification for which, your REM cycles can wait. 

FOMO

Along with our distracted, scatter brain-ness and sleep sacrificing lifestyles, social media induced FOMO has become a part of the fabric of our daily lives. A simple Google search shows up a whopping 15,10,000 results with articles from Bustle, Refinery29, Lifehack and the Independent competing for attention, all doling out advice about how to handle FOMO from ocial Media. We’ve all been there.

“Scrolling through Instagram, I’m constantly accosted by friends of mine who are getting either married or engaged. Being at the brink of 30, it gave me so much anxiety that I deleted the app.” – Sarika, 29

Social Media Anxiety

You know the feeling when you post a picture and wait anxiously for comments and likes? Or that complete feeling of despair when you can’t log onto your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat? That’s now being called ‘social media anxiety’.

Yes, it’s a thing. Here’s why: social media induces comparison within our minds.

Number of likes, number of friends and followers, number of comments has led to severe cases of anxiety across several youth, reports Metro news.

 

I also started feeling quite depressed looking at the “perfect” lives of bloggers, models, celebrities, and started comparing myself to them.’ - Tanveer, 25, British

Depression

Raise your hands if you already know Social Media is designed to give you a dopamine high? Well, if you do know, then you can imagine why it is linked to cases of depression and suicide. If you didn’t then here’s a quick crash course:

Ex-president of Facebook, Sean Parker, in a candid interview, admitted to exploiting human psychology by giving you a dopamine hit every time someone hits the like button or comments on a photograph.   Now, the thing about dopamine, is that it is a neuro-transmitter which has to do with motivation and reward-seeking, amongst other things. Social Media offers it a fleeting, virtual sense of fulfilment and leaves you craving for more. Which would be all fun and games, until your dopamine dips.  That’s when you feel depressed. It’s similar to the highs and lows of substance abuse, and not unlike the withdrawal symptoms of drug addiction.

If you are exhibiting symptoms of overuse, then fret not. It’s not too late. For starters, there are apps you can use to limit your social media usage.

But the first step, is acceptance and awareness.

If you feel like you have any of the symptoms, be honest to yourself and ask for help. That’s easier said than done, I know. But that’s another story.

In the meantime, stay tuned for advice from our experts about managing your screen time more productively. Lots on the subject coming up this week. Watch this space for more.

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