With everyone becoming a star nowadays on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, social media addiction is on the rise and vying for ‘likes’ is the new norm.
Social desirability is defined by how popular and influential you are on these media and your sense of personal value mostly depends on the number of followers you have. Your relationship with your partner feels worth it if everyone is commenting on how cute you two look together and your Caesar salad and your lemon meringue pie taste much better after 20% of your network have seen pictures of them and liked them on Instagram.
Is it due to low self-esteem, social anxiety or lack of emotional connection with the environment? The reasons may vary but one thing is for sure: this addiction is far from being healthy.
Dr Manoj Sharma founded an Internet addiction rehabilitation centre in Bengaluru’s Nimhans psychiatric hospital. But that was four years ago. At that time he barely received one patient per week. Today he’s seeing at least five to six patients a day.
That can only prove that indians are very tied to their screens. The bright side of this rise in people checking in to the centre is that at least they admit they need some help.
According to Dr Sharma, the younger generation (the 16-20 age group) seem the most addicted: “These are kids whose parents can afford to buy them gaming consoles and smartphones,” says Sharma.
How can one detect a social media addict? Well according to Varghese Mathew, clinical psychiatrist-in-training, it’s when the addiction affects everyday behaviour. It’s when the person becomes more comfortable being online than playing outside or hanging out with others of his or her own age.
“All of us use the Internet to WhatsApp or log on to social media almost every day. The way we assess if it’s a problem is when it impacts normal, everyday interactions,” Mathew explains. “Are you shirking work or bunking classes to stay online?”
The clinic has treated more than 250 people. Patients were trained to be more in control of their urge to consult their social media accounts and how to fill that void with more fulfilling activities like hobbies, taking classes and exploring other interests.
It would be great if we could see social media addiction rehabilitation centress all over the world because let’s admit it: not only indians are addicted to social media.