The digital age: My story of addiction

Addiction.

‘the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity.’

To be honest, i was worried about writing a blog and revealing my true online identity. I’ve thought about this at great lengths and I’m not really sure if I’m addicted to social media, or if I’m addicted to the feeling of validation on social platforms. Nevertheless my story is about addiction.

Social media is crucial to my daily life. I check my Facebook feed, Instagram feed and Snapchat first thing in the morning and it’s the last thing i do before i go to bed. I don’t read the paper in the morning or read a novel/watch tv before bed, all i need/do is check my social media. Maybe it’s reading articles on Facebook, looking through events coming up, funny memes, chatting with friends, liking or commenting of videos and photos on Instagram, maybe its all of these things at once. Whatever i might be doing on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, the reason i do it, is to stay relevant and connected. According to Coyle and Vaughn (2008) most university students in there study used social networking  websites for ‘keeping in touch with friends’ and Sago (2010) found that users had higher attention to communication through social media platforms compared to ‘traditional’ e-channels, such as email.

I’ve realised throughout the years of my adolescence into my early adulthood that I’ve grown up in an age where we are fed everything at the click of a button. And I’m used to that and addicted to always being up to date and connected. Sometimes i find myself scrolling through my Facebook feed for no reason and constantly refreshing it, hoping something new will pop up. According to a study in Hong Kong ‘over 80% of respondents chose ‘knowing how are things going on with people i know’ as the major reason of using Facebook’ (Cheung & Leung 2016) I know, you’re probably thinking how shallow or ridiculous this may sound but it’s the truth, and i know for a fact that there’s hundreds, thousands maybe even more people that feel the same way about social media and online activity as i do. Here’s an article relating to social media addiction:

Tweet embedded from my @Benjamin_Who profile

You can probably tell that from this so called ‘social media addiction’ that the social media platforms i use are all personal or creative, with slight differences in how i use depending on current trends. The trifecta of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are all for my personal use and are not professionally related at all. I use Facebook which can be ‘proposed a seven functional building blocks of social media: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation and groups’ (Kietzmann 2011) to stay connected to all my friends, reposting funny memes or videos on the odd occasion, posting albums of overseas trips, reading up on articles (sports, news), chatting with friends. I use Instagram to post personal photos of myself and my friends, these can vary from funny photos, scenic photos or just a current photo, normally associated with something i did on the weekend, a trip away or social event. Instagram is probably more personal than Facebook as you can essentially track where i am and what i’ve been doing as i post new photos every week or so. I use Snapchat to essentially broadcast whatever i’m doing, normally if i see something funny or note worthy throughout my day/night, i’ll probably snapchat it. It’s a really strange but very interactive way of connecting with my friends and is probably the most personal social media platform for me, as i’m broadcasting where i am and what i’m doing at a specific point in my day. I’ve attached a video of how i described online identity and how i use social media as well as some screenshots of my social media profiles:

Tweet embedded from my @Benjamin_Who profile

insta.jpgFbScreenshots of my Instagram page and Facebook profile respectively, retrieved 7 April 2014

Venn.jpg

‘My online identity’ at Easel.ly

The problem with my online identity revolves around my social media platforms all being personal but often hazed with the need for validation. What i mean by this, is that although my social media posts are personal, they are often posted with the need of online validation, which may be in the form of replies, comments or likes. For example, if i was to post a picture on Instagram i would put a filter on it and think of a funny/witty caption in order to maximise the amount of likes generated on my photo, the same can be applied to Facebook or Snapchat. I feel as though my online identity is very similar to the person i am offline in terms of all my online activity being based on real photos, trips, events that i have actually been apart of but when it comes to posting on these social media the anxiety of not being accepted or validated has an effect on the personal aspect of my social media channels. Am i truly showing my friend’s and family the true me? Or am i trying to be someone i am not in order to get that release of dopamine as i get another like? Does the fact that i have this social anxiety of validation through likes actually really change my online identity? These are all questions that i must consider in shaping my own online identity. Here’s a video that i can relate to regarding my online identity:

Tweet embedded from my @Benjamin_Who profile

The clear missing piece to my online identity is the lack of professional and business presence. I’ve ticked all the boxes of having both a personal space, where i can interact and connect with friends and family and share what i’ve been up to, and a creative space, where i can edit Instagram pictures or broadcast my day to day life on Snapchat with filters. But whilst online have a definitive hole when it comes to a professional online identity. A LinkedIn profile is something i’ll have to look into in the near future if and when i enter the professional workforce, and currently that would be difficult for me considering i’m unavailable online in a business sense.

I’ve recently started using Twitter and i’ve discovered it’s a really easy and simple way to connect with people online, broadcasting messages instantly with anyone, anywhere. It’s helped me curb my ‘social media addiction’ in a more meaningful way, instead of finding the perfect filter for one of my Snapchat’s, now i find myself my struggling to stay under the character limit whilst tailoring the perfect and most direct tweet about a topic i’m tweeting about in my university subject. My online identity has the capacity to grow, adapt and change to new trends, but my professional aspect of social media is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

(1056 words, not including citations and captions)

References

Cheung, S .L, Leung, W. F . Economics, Management & Financial Markets. 2016, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p56-71. 16p. 3 Charts, 4 Graphs. , Database: Business Source Complete

Coyle, C. L., and Vaughn, H. (2008), “Social Networking: Communication Revolution or Evolution?,” Bell Labs Technical Journal 13(2): 13–17.

Kietzmann, J. H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I. P., and Silvestre, B. S. (2011), “Social Media? Get Serious! Understanding the Functional Building Blocks of Social Media,” Business Horizons 54(3): 241–251.

Sago, B. (2010), “The Influence of Social Media Message Sources on Millennial Generation Consumers,” International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications 2(2): 7–18.

 

My broader ALC203-related online activity:

This unit has given me a broader understanding of online activity and online participation. Since starting this unit i’ve created a Twitter profile and i’ve started tweeting about the unit, starting conversation, posting videos while using the hashtag #ALC203 in order to engage and connect with all my peers at Deakin doing the same subject. I also created an About.Me page so my peers in the unit and tutors/unit chair can learn a little more about my life. Using WordPress is also new for me and the concept of creating a blog and sharing content online has been great for me.

(102 words)