Virtual dependence hits an all-time high
By Sheetal Sukhija | ENS - BANGALORE
01st July 2012 09:06 AM
As the world celebrated ‘Social Media Day’ on Saturday, Express explored how Bangaloreans were complaining of a new kind of addiction to ‘social media’.
When an 18-year-old Bangalorean, Shubhangi, hit her Facebook account 13 hours a day, she became an insomniac, failed a year due to lack of attendance at college and lost out on any kind of social touch-and-feel connect with her ‘real’ friends.
Her parents immediately sheduled an appointment with a psychologist. While her parents thought she would be troubled at the hands of failure in conventional terms, they realised she was indeed smiling at her virtual success of having over 1,500 friends on Facebook.
Psychologists claimed that they too have been hit by the social media addiction. They are only baffled at the kind of virtual dependence that is gripping not just the young, but also the middle aged and old people.
“While in other kinds of addiction, it is peer pressure that often draws you in, in the case of social media addiction, 24 hour connectivity has to be blamed. This kind of addiction has blurred any sense of time, space or proportion. Man has become more than just a social animal, now he is an electronic slave. This addiction is leading to serious psychological problems,” explained renowned psychologist Dr Vikram Prabhu.
A few problems, he listed out include irritability, frustration, psychological dependence on social media.
“Virtual reality is enticing because on any kind of social media, one can be whoever they wish to be. Further, it helps you overpower your low self-esteem and makes you feel good. There is only appreciation, no rejection. Positivity is boosted and negativity nullified. This is the reason many are glued onto their devices,” said Psychiatrist Dr Mythili Sharma.
“Addicts need to start timing themselves online, revive their old hobbies and take up some new ones too. Being on any social media for more than three hours is addiction, one needs to limit time spent and disconnect every now and then,” Sharma advised.
Interestingly, joining the ranks of tobacco, narcotics and alcohol de-addiction centres in the city, a few colleges and self-help groups are now focusing on monthly ‘social media de-addiction centres’.
“We are a bunch of people who realise that we are addicted to the social media and need to deglue ourselves. We don’t advise people to quit social media completely, instead we look at the positives we have drawn from them and work only on these,” said Supreeth, a participant from one such group.
Even as the social media bug has consumed many in the city, HR executives and recruitment experts reveal that in the last one year, over 30 lakh people were hired as ‘Social Media Managers’ in the city.
“Not just small firms trying to promote themselves, but all the big firms are cashing in on the social media wave. So much so, that every company has more than one page to promote themselves online and grab eyeballs. The job of these social media managers is to create brand awareness and sell their wares by putting out updates every minute of the day, to grab as many eyeballs as possible. It is a successful industry thriving on these addicts,” an industry expert opined.
He further added that this number is increasing by almost 40 per cent every year.
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