In early June, the world’s largest social network went down for a total of 10 minutes and needless to say, global meltdown ensued. Facebook users simultaneously took to Twitter to predict the Beginning of the End while scrambling to locate their MySpace passwords. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department even had to publicly request that people stop calling them to report the issue.
The Great Facebook Crash of 2014 became a true testament to the weakness of our generation; social media addiction. And with Australians spending an average of one full day on social networks each week², the concept is gathering some serious attention from experts.
One of these experts is Gina Lednyak, Founder of one of the country’s leading agencies L&A Social Media, and one of the participants of the original Facebook when it launched in early 2004 at Boston University.
As Gina explains, “Researchers from Harvard recently stated that social media can potentially be as equally addictive as drugs. Their report³ found that disclosing information about yourself via social media actually triggers the same part of the brain associated with the sensations of pleasure; the same pleasure we get from eating food or getting money, for example.”
“Social media has the potential to be so addictive in fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders considered including ‘internet addiction disorder’ to their list of afflictions in the most recent publication of the handbook for Psychologists.”
That’s not to say that everyone has an addictive relationship with their social networks; but if you’re starting to wonder if you might just meet the criteria for addiction, here are 5 tell-tale social media habits that could be a warning sign… that you need help!
1. You check Facebook on the toilet
A recent study revealed that 75% of people use their mobile phone while sitting on the loo⁴. If that doesn’t gross you out enough, the research also showed that a quarter of men actually choose to sit on the toilet instead of stand, just to free their hands for a second of one on one mobile-phone-time. If you love going to the loo because it means you get some valuable time to check your Twitter feed, you might be on the verge of a problem.
Grouped with this kind of addict is also the ‘chronic shower interrupter’; someone who places their phone within view of the shower (continuously wiping residue from the glass so they don’t miss anything) or worse yet, an individual that will actually break from showering to check a notification.
2. You equate ‘Likes’ and ‘Pokes’ with real-life intimacy
Think back to a time before social media. How often did you actually hear your telephone ring? How often did you hear your doorbell ring? Things have changed, huh? The more connected we become through online points, the more we tend to throw face-to-face communication out the window.
The value we place on communication is shifting and our perception of intimacy is undergoing some big changes. Thanks to social media, a Facebook message to our mum is the equivalent of a phone call; we consider Instagram followers we’ve never met before our ‘friends’; and a simple ‘Like’ as a definitive sign that our ex wants us back. If you can’t remember the last time you caught up with your best friend in real-life, or spoke to your mum or dad on the phone, you may have fallen victim to social media addiction.
3. You spoon your smart-phone every night
For a lot of us, our mobile screen is the first thing we see when we wake up and the last thing before we fall asleep. While it’s easy to fall into this habit, it is the least conducive to having a good night’s sleep and a productive start to the day. I challenge you to stop looking at your phone at least an hour before you go to bed, and refrain for an hour upon waking up. Grab a fiction book for the evening or spend some one on one time with your family, and in the morning spend your first hour exercising an planning the day ahead instead!
If you can’t fathom sleeping with your mobile out of arms reach, just remember the Texas girl whose phone blew up under her pillow⁵.
4. You legitimately judge someone’s social standing by the number of followers
The strength of someone’s social media presence, namely the number of followers or ‘Likes’ they boast online, has quite literally become a factor in how we measure their clout or social standing offline. In fact, many of us could admit to forming an opinion of someone we’ve met, only to see their online profile and shift our perception entirely based on how ‘popular’ and ‘attractive’ they appear on social media. If you find yourself gravitating toward certain people because of how impressive they seem online, you may just fall into the ‘High Risk’ addict category.
5. You do things for the sake of posting about it online
If you make plans based on how good they’ll look documented online, then you might want to think twice about your relationship with social media. This includes ordering the best looking meal on the menu, or buying a Bubble-O Bill to Instagram when you don’t even like ice-cream, to going for an early morning ‘run’ when you really just want a shot of yourself adorning gym gear in front of a sunrise. Serious addicts take this to a new level by allowing social-media-worthiness to dictate their relationships. Inviting someone along because you’d love to get a selfie in their car or striking up a conversation with a stranger just so you can pose for a photo with their French bulldog are signs that you’re a full-blown addict.
Based out of Sydney and New York L&A Social Media is a one-of-a-kind agency specialising in Social Media Strategy & Implementation. L&A Social Media’s proprietary psychology based approach to social media has helped some of the world’s biggest brands increase exposure, boost overall market share and get into the hands and minds of their target market. For more information visit http://lednyaksocial.com/
 Neilson’s 2014 Australian Connected Consumer Report