I just got a newsletter from MediaPost in my inbox. The main story was titled “Survey: 7% of Social Network Users Would Look at Messages During Sex”.
It made me smile and reminded me of my days as a publisher. Of course, the people at MediaPost are publishers, and I guess they know that a headline containing the word sex usually gets some more eyeballs. So I took it a step further and titled this post ‘Will social media kill our sex life?”.
I bet some readers of this post will read this because they worry (“what, no more sex because my partner is on Facebook all day, tomorrow I throw out my computer”) and, yes, some visitors will probably come via Google after having typed in a phrase like “how to use social media to find a sex partner”.
OK, enough fun. What the article in MediaPost is really tackling is the issue of how addictive social media can be. And that’s no fun.
It’s been covered in some other media too. And, as always, I have my own thoughts about the issue. However, let me start by saying why it’s becoming a hot topic again.
MediaPost refers to a study by consumer electronics site Retrevo that “proves” how addictive social networking can be.
Some data, and I quote here: “30% of Facebook and Twitter users said they check their accounts every time they wake up during the night, and 7% said they would check their messages during sex (given the option)”. Hence the title of course.
OK, forget the stats. We all know that the use of social media can be addictive just as we know that the use of Internet can be addictive and just like we know that gambling, etc. can be addictive.
What do these surveys prove? That many of us can get addicted. But it’s not about the stuff you’re addicted to: shopping, booze, caffeine, work, sex (Google is going to love me today), whatever. It’s about why you are addicted.
Social media are not addictive as such. People can get addicted. Why? We all have our reasons: feeling lonesome, feeling more appreciated by virtual contacts than “real” ones (define the difference…), sociological reasons (we live in a culture of fear, isolation, prestige and selfishness, read Chomsky, Furedi, Glassner and others), a sense of emptiness, avoiding bad feelings, whatever.
My two cents: all these surveys turn things upside down. This does not mean that there is no such thing as an addiction to Internet, social media, etc. However, stating this with surveys is like a diagnosis. The question a good physician asks is “why?”.
And my guess is that in answering the why we inevitably will find that it’s about the loss of social connections in today’s society. And now, I will surprise you: it’s my belief that social networks, when wisely used, can lead to real friendships and social connections. Why? Because they have for me.
But of course, as always: too much is too much. That’s why a good balance is key. In real life, in “virtual life” and…in marketing.
What do you think?