“Anxiety is driving people to want to give it up and then to not be able to,” said Larry Rosen, author of “iDisorder” and professor of psychology at California State University. “Some know they’re too wrapped up in it, but if they give it up, even for an hour, they’re afraid they’ll miss out on something.”
Some users will make sincere attempts to leave social media, particularly as a new year’s resolution. They’ll issue the “I’m disabling my account” post or tweet, which can frequently be seen during final exams or on Ash Wednesday or any day when an ex-boyfriend becomes engaged somewhere.
It’s nothing but drama and I don’t really care what people think or say anymore.
I waste too much time on Twitter and Facebook. I want to delete my accounts but it’s sooo hard ):
But these are empty threats. Rosen says many quitters are back to social media within 24 hours. The anxiety becomes too much to bear. Social media usage is increasingly classified as an addiction — researchers in Norway have made the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, to decipher just how addicted people can become — but Rosen disagrees.
“It’s not an addiction, it’s an obsession,” Rosen said. “An addiction is when you do something to gain pleasure, [such as smoking] cigarettes or playing games. We’re not doing this to get pleasure; we’re doing it to reduce our anxiety. If something good is there, then there’s a rush of pleasure.”
Facebook and Twitter declined to comment on reactivation rates, but their growth — Facebook has 1 billion users, Twitter has 500 million — indicates that, like Pringles or K-pop, social media are enjoyable, habit-forming and can be overconsumed.
Judith Donath, a faculty fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, is among the group that views media reports on Internet addiction as overblown.
“For one, it is a social thing,” Donath said. “There’s a lot of people who say it has enhanced their ability to stay in touch with people. Some people take it too far, but as a society, we often look down on things that are purely social. And that’s not healthy.”
So, yes, America wastes time on social media, but we used to waste time watching marathons of “The Golden Girls.” Which is worse? And unlike sugary, carbonated beverages, the government sees no need to regulate our social media intake. (Although New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has his concerns, once saying that social media “makes governing more difficult.”)