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Did We Create Digital Addiction?

Okay, here’s a question: If we (and by “we,” I mean people in general and not you and I) hadn’t invented the smartphone, would we have social media addiction?  Meaning, if social media and email and searches and blogs — if all of that was only accessible via the computer — would we still have people shelling out $150/hour for digital addiction therapy?

Because I don’t remember caring all that much about who was trying to reach me before my smartphone.  My assumption was that their email would wait until I sat down at the computer.  I had the same feeling about Facebook or Twitter.  I would intake whatever I could intake and leave the rest to drift past me unseen.  My RSS reader ensured that I wouldn’t miss blog posts, but again, I read them on my own time.

Most articles reference the addictive nature of social media or apps; how they are designed to be addictive. While that adds to the problem, isn’t part of it a function of portability?  Sort of like hookahs vs. cigarettes?  Sure, cigarettes are designed to be addictive due to added chemicals, but isn’t the real power of the cigarette its portability?  You can slip them into your pocket, take them anywhere.  It’s the intake system more than the product itself, right?

At least that is what I thought about as I read the BBC’s article about social media addiction while on my smartphone.

It’s a weird addiction because an alcoholic either is drinking or not drinking; a gambler either betting or not betting.  But if your job involves social media, you cannot avoid interactive with the object of your addiction.  You can only restrict your access to it by limiting your intake system; going the social media hookah route vs. the social media cigarette route.

In other words, sitting down at the computer to access it, and then stepping away and going offline because you’ve deleted those social media apps on your phone.

Just something to think about as you move through your day.


1 Jenn P { 04.23.17 at 8:25 am }

I think about this a lot. I am definitely addicted to my smart phone. I have tried multiple times in multiple ways to limit my use of it. It’s just so handy! I no longer have facebook. I have deleted the instagram app before but have it back again. I don’t have any games on my phone but I can thoroughly waste my time on google, instagram, and wordpress. My biggest concern is that I used to be perfectly fine going through life getting the sporadic T9 text to make plans or even a phone call, but now I need constant interaction. I feel insecure in my own headspace due to the instant gratification of my smart phone. I also am not giving my full attention to my tasks or my son because of it. And I know I’m not alone! When I try to validate the idea of not having a smart phone, I think of all the useful things I can do with it. I can look up gas prices, I can look up free places to park my RV, I can take pictures and then transfer them to whatever google is calling picasa now, I can blog while my son falls asleep, I can keep track of what books I read, I can check my bank account and pay bills, and I can access my email at any time. I could probably do without those things but they are so functional. The biggest reason I cannot get rid of my smart phone is that I use it to source used books for my amazon business. Because I do need internet access to do that, there’s no way I can go back to a simpler phone.

2 a { 04.23.17 at 8:51 am }

Forgot my phone the other day. Still had my computer at work to access the internet, BUT I finished my book too quickly and was subsequently bored for a bit until I remembered that I still have years worth of crossword and acrostic puzzles to do. Then I was fine. Apparently, I will find distraction wherever I can, no smartphone necessary.

However, if we build it, someone will be addicted to it, no matter what it is.

3 Click { 04.23.17 at 2:54 pm }

I’ve downloaded the Forest app where you grow a forest over time for time spent away from your device. Obviously, there’s nothing stopping you from setting the timer going on your phone, then connecting via your computer or another device, but I’ve got a habit of sitting down to do something ‘disconnected’ but then picking up my phone when it buzzes to see what’s going on.

This is helping train me to not respond to ever little noise my phone makes which I guess is a start. 🙂

Cait @ Click’s Clan

4 Mali { 04.25.17 at 6:41 pm }

Remembering to check my phone on a regular basis is my problem, so clearly I have a little bit of difficulty understanding those who are addicted.

I think a good analogy to the social media addiction issue though might be those who have food issues (like me). It’s hard because I can’t go cold turkey on food. I have to eat. You have to check social media for your work. And we pretty much all have to check our emails for work. So it’s an issue of learning how to moderate usage (of social media or food). Easier said than done sometimes!

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