Social media has changed the very nature of the world that we are living in. Take the fact that Facebook alone has 1.11 billion users or that 21% of the world’s active internet users are said to access Twitter every month. Not only has social media usage continued to increase exponentially, but it has become more visible, with people accessing the internet by mobile phone having increased 60.3% to 818.4 million over the last 2 years. Everywhere we go we are surrounded by people Tweeting, sending Facebook updates, watching YouTube videos, connecting on Google+, networking on LinkedIn and much more besides.
(Courtesy of www.businessgrow.com)
Last Friday shortly after finishing posting Social Media Addiction (Part 1), I went to the cafe near my house. It was the usual scene, a lengthy queue of people, all fiddling with their mobile devises. There were Blackberrys’, iPhones’, Androids’ and a smattering of Samsung Galaxy S3s’. In front of me a teenaged girl was typing into her mobile. Leaning forward I could see she was sending a Tweet on Twitter. It said,
‘In Starbucks, so many choices :?’
A short while later the barista asked for her order. The girl, still typing on her mobile was oblivious to the question and the barista was forced to repeat the question two more times, before she finally looked up and turned her attentions to the menu board.
Over a minute had passed when I said to her, ‘In your own time.’
She glared at me and then ordered an ‘extra hot cafe latte with soy milk.’
After which she typed another Tweet, which I knew was about me. I knew this because I was peering over her shoulder, but she noticed and said, ‘excuse me,’ in a theatrical tone, shielding the phone from my view, as she continued typing and I was left wondering what the Tweet said, what smiley she used and the choice of hashtag – #somepeople, #rude or #goaway perhaps. Or some other colloquialism that has been trending recently, more than likely instigated by Justin Bieber.
From my table where I sit drinking a cafe mocha with normal milk, I can see the girl taking a photograph of her extra hot cafe latte with soy milk and then she’s on her mobile again, no doubt Tweeting the details before posting the picture on Facebook and Pinterest.
(Courtesy of ejiu111.wordpress.com)
All around me it’s the same story. School children crowded around a table, all typing feverishly into their mobile phones. A mother Tweeting incessantly, her toddler in a high-chair beside her mimicking each gesture, pressing imaginary buttons on the surface in-front of him with chocolate stained fingers.
It is at this moment that I find myself asking if we are all addicted to social media and I continue to contemplate this for quite sometime, whilst sipping my mocha and at the same time viewing my Twitter Feed on my iPhone screen.
Perhaps addiction is merely a matter of consumption vs communication and as communicating is not consuming it is not addiction. At any rate is it not better that people are kept busy fidgeting with their hand-held devices than fiddling with cigarettes, bottles of spirits and syringes. Though there are instances where people appear to have mastered doing both at the same time. A Youtube video (now removed) was an instructional video by a girl living in some remote Montana prairie town on how to Tweet with one hand whilst at the same time with the other preparing and smoking a meth pipe.