Picture entering an enchanting library with an infinite collection of books. You’ve heard tales of the remarkable stories hidden within its shelves, and your curiosity drives you to explore its literary wonders. As you start flipping through the pages, engrossed in the narratives, you realize there’s no limit to the literary feast laid out before you.
Yet, there’s a catch. You never know which captivating story awaits you next or which one will leave a lasting impact. Before you realize it, you’re mentally fatigued.
A similar mental fatigue is seeping into our society. However, it’s not stories we’re immersed in, but it’s content.
Have you ever found yourself scrolling through an endless stream of tweets and suddenly discovered that a significant chunk of your day has slipped away? Perhaps you’ve delved into the bottomless pit of reels and posts online, losing track of time.
If that sounds familiar, you’ve experienced the issue of endless scrolling. What started as a simple way to make the internet more fun has become a big problem. In this article, we’ll talk about infinite scrolling and why it’s a problem.
Types of Social Media Addiction
As per information from The Diamond Rehab Thailand, the following are the five categories of social media addiction:
Facebook and Instagram Addiction
This is characterized by Facebook and Instagram’s excessive and compulsive utilization to elevate one’s mood, even in the face of negative consequences. This problematic use of Facebook and Instagram can disrupt an individual’s daily life.
Due to the concerning nature of this addiction, TorHoerman Law emphasizes that the line between social media interactions and in-person relationships is often unclear. This blurred boundary can have adverse effects on self-esteem and overall mental health.
Derived from the phrase “no mobile phone phobia,” the term nomophobia describes a condition in which individuals feel fear and anxiety when they are separated from their mobile devices. The absence of a charged phone or a lack of cellular service can induce panic attacks in those affected by this disorder.
Instant Messaging Addiction
This involves a compulsive need for online interactions through services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. This addiction entails a fixation with instant messaging, prompting individuals to check their phones for new messages or texts frequently.
This signifies the excessive use of microblogs, a form of concise traditional blogging encompassing short content in various formats, such as audio, text, or video. An example of a widely used microblogging platform is Twitter.
Online Dating Addiction
This involves the problematic use of online dating platforms and applications. Individuals may exhibit a preference for cultivating virtual relationships through dating apps, potentially leading to social isolation from family and friends and causing harm to personal relationships.
Detrimental Effects of Social Media Scrolling
According to research conducted by the University of Michigan, approximately 210 million individuals globally are believed to grapple with addiction to social media and the internet.
Here are some concerning side effects of infinite scrolling on social media:
Increased Depression and Anxiety
Excessive scrolling through social media feeds has been consistently linked to heightened levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.
Frequent exposure to carefully crafted and frequently unrealistic portrayals of other people’s lives can distort one’s perception of reality, leading to a deterioration in mental well-being. Teens and young adults, in particular, are more susceptible to experiencing heightened levels of depression and anxiety as a result.
A concerning revelation comes from a study indicating that 52% of teenage girls attributing negative social comparison experiences on Instagram cite images related to beauty as the primary cause. Moreover, there is a growing sentiment among teens linking Instagram usage to increased rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Teenagers facing mental health challenges express that Instagram exacerbates their struggles, with the perceived negatives outweighing any positive aspects in terms of self-esteem and mental well-being.
This issue has reached such a critical point that a legal response, known as the Instagram lawsuit, has emerged. This lawsuit allows individuals who have suffered emotional damage, pain and suffering, and social anxiety due to Instagram use to take legal action against Facebook (Meta.), the parent company of Instagram.
Impact on Emotional Wellness
The impact on emotional wellness is profound. Social media use directly influences emotional wellness and mental health, potentially leading to negative consequences. The constant barrage of information, opinions, and comparisons can overwhelm individuals, affecting their emotional stability.
Association with Loneliness
A study published in JAMA Psychiatry showcased that adolescents who spend more than three hours daily on social media are at a higher risk of facing psychological and mental health difficulties. These risks include heightened feelings of loneliness, depression, and an increased likelihood of contemplating or attempting suicide.
Despite the intended purpose of these platforms to connect individuals, there is a paradoxical effect, as they can contribute to a sense of disconnection from genuine and meaningful relationships in real life.
Forgetfulness of Enjoying Real Life
Continuous scrolling can lead to neglecting the present moment, affecting the ability to enjoy life beyond the screen. The virtual world of social media often overshadows the importance of genuine experiences, causing individuals to miss out on the richness of life outside the digital realm.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Regular exposure to others’ seemingly perfect lives on social media can trigger FOMO, fostering feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction with one’s own life. The fear of missing out on social events, achievements, or experiences portrayed online can lead to a perpetual cycle of comparison and discontent.
In the United States, the acknowledgment by approximately 30% of users that they consider themselves social media addicts raises a red flag about the pervasive influence of these platforms.
Even more concerning is the fact that over half of teenagers, a staggering 54%, express the difficulty of breaking away from the grip of social media. This highlights a significant challenge that merits careful consideration.
The prevalence of social media scrolling is a cause for concern, with its multifaceted impact on mental health and well-being. Recognizing the pitfalls of endless scrolling is crucial, and efforts are needed to strike a balance between online and offline experiences to foster a healthier relationship with social media.