Social Media Addiction

By 智扬

On the bus or MRT trains, we see almost everyone constantly glued to their mobile devices, myself included. We have grown into a habit of checking our handphones either just before we sleep or when we awaken.

Upon reflecting on why we easily become addicted to social media, I realized that part of its appeal lies in the fact that it allows us to feed our greed and curiosity of information, our inner ‘kaypohness’ (Singlish for being a busybody). We want to know what our friends and family are doing or are busy with. We feel a need to compare with our peers; are we doing better or worse off than them? We want to be in the know of the most happening event or the latest trend to follow. Most times, what we are surfing for is actually not the information that we really need. It’s unlike watching the news where the news editor decides what news to report in terms of severity and priority. In social media, we choose what we want to read according to our interest at that moment. It often takes only a split-second decision to click on the next link when we get bored with what we are currently reading about or watching on social media.

I came across this phrase in a local news article about the use of social media; “… we ignore what we dislike and we will share what we like and feel strongly for”. This struck a chord to what I had been thinking recently about the pervasiveness of social media in almost every aspect of our lives. Hence I believe that the popularity of social media is pushing us towards extremism.

The Internet has brought us closer with immediate news and information sharing. Though fast improving technological advances have brought us many tremendous positives and benefits, we are seeing that it is also causing us to develop more varying and differing viewpoints. Social media sharing has allowed anyone with an internet connection a platform to voice out their own views and opinions to the public. This can be as harmless as diehard supporting rival football teams halfway around the world to dangerous views that advocate extremism with regard to racial, religions, politics and nationalism.

A recent news headlines was that of the spreading of false news or information. While I am not an expert to comment on the measures and policies the authorities are planning to implement to deal with this, I am constantly reminding myself and those around me that we need to be more mindful of what we type and comment online or even just that one simple click to share someone’s link or comment.

We should strive to be mindful and constantly check and  remind ourselves to be very careful with what we write or post on social media as there could be terrible consequences as a result of a thoughtless word or post. We also have to be aware and know clearly if we consciously browsing social media for a clear purpose or if we are doing it as part of our routine, which is a clear sign of addiction.