I just read a rather disturbing, yet probably accurate, view of a day in the technological life of a millennial.
In the article entitled, How Work Became An Inescapable Hellhole published by Wired, the author shares her day from the moment she opens her eyes until she goes to sleep and how many technology touches she has throughout the day. I counted at least 29 different platforms or activities (and this is probably way under estimated). Her day made me exhausted just reading about it.
This past week I also watched watched the documentary The Social Dilemma on Netflix. If you want to get freaked out about how the social media apps are actually built to be addictive and how they use your information to further pull you in – this is definitely the documentary to watch. If there ever was a case for an external watchdog on this industry this is probably it.
But when we think of social media and potential overuse or addiction, we often think it’s a young person’s problem. But some research has proved otherwise.
According to a study conducted by Neilsen, they found that 35 to 49 year olds spent more time on social media then any other generation. What was also surprising is that even though adults 50 years and older were not the highest users, they did spend an average of four hours and 9 minutes on social media weekly. As well, their time is growing at a much faster rate then any other generation. For baby boomers, activity levels actually increased by 64% just within one year.
Now here’s some good news.
The majority of people are not actually addicted to social media. The Addiction Center estimates that between 5% to 10% of people are (this is still a very large number mind you). But they do go further on to add;
“While social media platforms have their benefits, using them too frequently can make people feel increasingly unhappy and isolated. These negative emotional reactions are not only produced due to the social pressure of sharing things with others, but also the comparison of material things and lifestyles that these sites promote.”
They also suggested that if you have three or more of the following signs you could be at risk of developing a social media addiction;
- Do you spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
- Do you feel urges to use social media more and more?
- Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?
- Do you often try to reduce use of social media without success?
- Do you become restless or troubled if unable to use social media?
- Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job or studies?
So given these apps are specifically designed to be addictive and the rates of usage are escalating what should we do?
Here’s my thought.
Many years ago, I heard someone speak about work / life balance. At the time, they said that you needed to have something very compelling to make you want to leave work behind. It had to be something that forced you to prioritize your life outside of your work. Ideally this should be something that you enjoyed doing. Whether it was your family, your hobbies, working with an outside organization – just something that rebalanced your life to not only be about work.
I think this same advice holds true for social media.
We need to have something more interesting to do then watch or post on our social media feeds. If we don’t, these media outlets are designed for us to just literally sit and stay connected to for hours.
So what’s exciting in your life? What is more important for to do then watch or post on social media?
I believe that social media can play an important part of our lives. It can help keep us connected, informed and entertained. But just like so many things in life, it needs to be done in moderation.
Besides it’s much more fun to have a life that’s more exciting to live then one just spent watching.