The Worst Kind of Relationship
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Health and Wellness

The Worst Kind of Relationship

The Worst Kind of Relationship

We all have that one friend; most of us have ten -- the social media addicts. They joke when they tell you they are totally addicted to Facebook, but as it turns out their addiction just might be real. Reputable sources, like CBS and the University of Maryland, conducted studies and concluded that withdrawal symptoms from cellphones are similar to substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, meth, and ketamine. They have dubbed it nomophobia and information deprivation disorder, diagnostic names for the craving to be connected. 

In a recent brain scan study, research discovered more patterns of "abnormal white matter" (white matter is the areas that contain nerve fibers that transmit signals to other parts of the brain) on brains of declared internet addicts, compared to the MRIs of non-addicts. When asked to unplug, case studies show that withdrawal is difficult and throws us into a frenzy similar to that of rehabbing drug addicts (see article links below). 

Our generation clings to an obviously dependable bond to social media and our cellphones, and like all unstable relationships, it is hard to break it off unless you know just how far deep you are in.

Many people gawk in disbelief at the science of cellphone obsession, so to assess the matter in a different light consider this -- is social media obstructing your social life? Have you ever mulled over the potential conversations you have lost, or the things your eyes neglect to see, on a daily basis? For all we know, there could be a UFO flying overhead and the only ones who would notice are either still stuck in the flip phone era or the intense users whose iPhone batteries have died. During awkward silences and moments of boredom, we jump at the chance to plug in, because our social circles have become so consumed with knowing what its members are up to 24/7. 

Even if we do not want to coin it  as an addiction, social media has made us way too comfortable with avoiding societal interactions, whether it is intentional or not. The habit is virtually impossible to sever because we have become so accustomed to our iPhones being an extension of our hands.

Our generation has made the art form of documenting our lives such a regularity that by the time lunchtime hits, most of your friends already know what you are wearing, what you ate for breakfast and what your plan is for the day due to the various Snapchats you have sent into cyberspace. We go out at night and check Instagram with a high chance that the individual you see on your screen is across the bar from you. It is an insane overabundance of information, yet we cannot seem to stop looking, tapping, and scrolling. Consider how much of our memory is being occupied with the activities of who we 'follow', and perhaps we will be more aware of the absence of our own thoughts. We complain about getting pointless Anapchats, yet cannot seem to stop stuffing our short term memory with the latest compilation of our friends' selfies.

Nevertheless, there is the fair argument that if you do not stay plugged in, you truly fall behind. So what is the solution? Social media abstinence? Senseless. What we can try to do is maintain a reasonable balance. Use our phones when necessary, only to the extent that is necessary. Check your notifications, and then unplug. When out with friends, play the game of stacking your phones at dinner and endorse the rule that whoever reaches for theirs first has to buy a round of tequila. If we remain conscientious of how much we depend on our phones, maybe it is possible to reduce our reliance. 

Regardless of whether you buy into the science, consider this -- even just ten years ago, it was awkward not to talk to the guy standing next to you in the elevator, with our only other option being twiddling our thumbs. It's no wonder we call our swift personal bios to employers, elevator speeches. However, those elevator conversations have all but disappeared, and as a result, we are limiting our social connections by choosing cyber relationships over real ones.

Unfortunately, we have gotten to the point where an increasing portion of our self worth is built on likes, but how often do we wave to the people whose pictures we just double clicked on? With double tapping comes a double standard; it’s ironic and addicting, yet universal. 

The solution is not to throw your iPhone in the nearest lake, but to simply be more aware of how much time you are spending educating yourself about other peoples' lives. For the basic reason that when you look back at yours, there is no doubt that your most epic moments will not stem from the hours you have logged on Facebook and Instagram, and especially not from the lightning quick thumb muscles you have acquired from all that work. The purpose of phones and social media is for us to connect with others. So once you have accomplished your task, look up at the people around you and enjoy the party. Stack your phones in the middle of the table, and maybe you will even get a shot of tequila out of it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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