Social Media Sickness

In 2004, way before TikTok, Instagram, or even touch-phones were a thing, a soon-to-be-Harvard-drop-out worked away in his dorm room. There, he created a computer program which ranked photos of fellow students in accordance to who was voted the ‘hottest’.

He didn’t know it then, but Mark Zuckerberg had just laid the foundations of what today is known as ‘Facebook’ – and, just like that, modern social media was born.

Man, what did we do before social media? We can upload our kids’ pictures, keep in touch with friends and family, read up reviews on that new cafe’ we’ve been dying to try out, swap cat memes (because, let’s face it, that’s what the internet is for). We can get directions, follow/stalk our favourite music act, get business information – all quite literally at the tips of our fingers! And what with it being openly acceptable to have your phone out in any situation, there’s never a time where we’re not connected.

And, damn, does it suck.

Confession time; I’d be a liar if I said my phone wasn’t within 5 metres of me at any given moment. It practically never stops beeping for all the news and notifications, and what starts out as 5 minutes of ‘let me look at the news’ turns into mindless browsing that has at times lasted well into the early hours of the morning. All the while, my books and art supplies sit in a corner, disused and gathering dust, weeping silently for my return.

I joke about it, but the amount of time I’ve been spending on my phone as of late had been worrying, to say the least. My hand felt almost ‘naked’ without that stupid electronic brick nestled in it, and I felt almost a compulsion to check news or social media sites at various points during the day.

Turns out, phone addiction is a genuine problem. And the amount of people exhibiting symptoms is truly worrying – and it’s all so normalised. Aside from anxiety, irritability, and sleep disturbance, the overload of information ain’t too grand for mental health, either.

Maybe I’m being cynical, but it seems as though it’s only bad news these days. COVID, corruption, Trump, crime, injustice, Trump, poverty, homelessness… and did I mention Trump?

Pair that with constantly, obsessively checking your phone, and you can bet your mental health will plummet faster than Vanilla Ice’s music career.

Motivation, cognitive function, inspiration, concentration…. all negatively affected by overuse of phones and social media. Our obsession as a society is quite literally making us sick.

The solution? I’m not sure there is one – not a clear one, at least. We live in a world that is pretty much dependent on phones and social media. And even though going cold turkey and leaving for Comino to live in the great outdoors sounds idyllic, it may not be entirely practical, let alone possible.

At the very least, make the effort to log off, wind down, and make it a habit to do things with actual meaning to them again. Pick up that book, lace up your hiking boots, bust out the paints – your brain cells will definitely thank you.

Technology may be here to stay, but that certainly doesn’t mean we should be slaves to it. There is a real world out there – and if you’re constantly hunched over a mobile phone, you’re going to miss it.

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Discussion

  1. stephen

    Great words.
    Any addiction can be fought and one against . If there was ever a phone addict , it was I. But nowadays , its a tool not a necessary, on my day off its on silent, my most used apps are for the weather and photos .
    They have become baby sitters to babies , instead of parents parenting .
    We must not blame the tool, but the users weakness and dependence.

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