Social Media: The Trending Addiction

Earlier this week, a University of Chicago research team released the results of their study that measured willpower of 205 individuals between the ages of 18 and 85. The team discovered that the “desire for social media was far tougher to resist than that of sexual urges, spending impulses and alcohol, tobacco, and coffee” (Kevin Allen, Ragan).

Although I’m slightly skeptical about the procedure the University of Chicago’s study used to measure willpower, I still believe that the desire for social media, or to access email, is stronger than smoking or drinking.

There’s a lot to take into account about social media and emails in comparison to smoking. For example, nowadays you can’t light up:

  1. At your desk or in the office
  2. In the middle of a meeting
  3. In bed first thing in the morning, or last thing at night (traditionally)
  4. While on the train to work
  5. In the middle of the gym

An individual doesn’t have to excuse him or herself to look at or access social media when a computer, tablet, iPad, smart phone, etc. is within reach. Which, both fortunately and unfortunately, most people don’t go anywhere without their phones these days.

Also, the habits of constantly staying on top of current events, the latest relevant topics, and timely responding to emails are far more encouraged than smoking or drinking.

Personally, I think that UChicago came to an exceptionally valid conclusion, but social media is much more easily accessible and encouraged throughout the day than coffee, shopping, alcohol, or tobacco.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user, MDgovPics

Social Media. 24/7. All Day. Every Day.


5 thoughts on “Social Media: The Trending Addiction

  1. Checking e-mail/social media is, in some ways, the perfect addiction, since there seem to be no unwanted side effects or health risks, unlike the other addictions you mentioned. Also, as you wrote, you can do it in front of others with no shame. I suspect there will be some long-term health effects due to people walking around, smartphone in hand, lost in a more-or-less constant endorphin rush. If checking social media is the gateway drug, what’s next?

  2. The only unwanted side effects that I can think of from constant staring at a smartphone screen are a bumped head, strained eyes or tired thumbs- but in the long run, those side effects don’t really compare to cancer, liver failure, or ulcers.
    I can’t even begin to fathom what the next addiction or craze will be…any ideas?

  3. I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I get annoyed at myself for being so attached to my phone. How the heck did I survive before? The downside is, my eyes hurt and I get headaches a lot from being constantly on my phone.


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