Social media has become essential for communication. Not only for individuals but for business-to-business communication and all other forms of information exchange. It's safe to say that social networks are a primary mean of communication today -- if you don't have a profile on at least one, you might as well not exist. How has this affected our psyche?


The Guardian reported on a study, conducted by Wilhelm Hofmann of Chicago University's Booth Business School. The study found that social media is harder to resist than alcohol and cigarettes.

Hofmann said to The Guardian: "Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not 'cost much' to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist."

Our obsession with taking selfies and our constant seeking of attention may have even turned some of us into self-absorbed narcissists. That is what social media does -- it allows you to create your own reality. A reality in which your ideas and thoughts are seemingly appreciated and absorbed by other people when, in fact, they most probably are not. As psychologist Sherry Turkle (professor at the MIT) says for Real Simple: "What I hear most often is “Nobody listens to me.” With all these “friends” and followers, you have automatic listeners," and adds: "With cyber-connections, you aren’t exercising the same emotional competencies that you do in person."

The consequences

In conclusion, it seems as though social media is driving us further apart.

Instead of bringing us closer and making communication easier, it is alienating us and turning some into self-obsessed narcissists, addicted to validation and attention.

Corporations use social networks for marketing, businesses use them to build brands and establish relationships with customers, spammers abuse them and we use them to seek attention and build meaningless, artificial followings and lists of "friends." Instead of communicating with each other, we are communicating our intimacy to others, seeking feedback and validation, at the same time comparing ourselves to those that have it better.

What will this lead to? How are we, as a society, supposed to avoid the psychological trap that we are setting up for ourselves?

In a few decades time, when more social networks appear and the ones that are currently popular evolve and grow, will a mental health crisis really be a surprise?