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Social Media Addiction?
The original article appears in The Conversation and is composed by Amanda
Baughan who is a PhD student in Computer Science and Engineering at the
University of Washington. I provide a clinical biopsychosocial application. We
approach the topic of what I refer to as Lost in Cyberspace.
“An hour or so later, I would look up and realize what time it was - and how
ravenous I’d become. I had become totally absorbed in looking at memes,
snark and the 24 hour news cycle”.
“This experience sparked an idea: What if, instead of people becoming
“addicted” to social media – as users often characterize their excessive
engagement – they’re actually dissociating, or becoming so engaged that
they lose track of time”? So her present research focuses on this topic and
she is doing so over four years.
She construes that these are episodes associated with PTSD; and I disagree
with her, having conducted clinical research on combat trauma and the
displays of CPTSD associated with multiple combat excursions, often
resulting is deaths.
She offers that: “There are common, everyday experiences of dissociation,
which involve attention being limited to a narrow range of experience.
Everyday dissociation can be passive or active”. I refer to these as normative
flows across the eight streams of consciousness; and these reflect altered
awareness. She offers that these experiences are healthy cognitive functions;
and I agree.
“Dissociation is a process that is defined by focused attention that leads to a
reduced sense of the passage of time and reduced self-awareness”.
Clinicians like myself understand these episodes as deliberate focus.
“When online, however, dissociation can reflect zombie-like behavior -
scrolling for hours without realizing it, not being aware to one’s surroundings
while scrolling, or scrolling on autopilot and then realizing you haven’t actually
paid any attention to what you’ve read”.
There is no evidence based on neuroimaging examinations of acute or
persisting Organic Brain Syndrome as we so often find in addiction to potent
psychoactive substances. In this particular case, we refer to these states as
intoxication.
“In our study, we recruited volunteers to use a custom mobile app alternative
to Twitter, called Chirp. Forty-three people used Chirp for four weeks, cycling
through four different design interventions, coupled with in-app surveys. We
then selected 11 of them to interview about the experience”.
Understanding social media overuse as a byproduct of dissociation, rather
than addiction, can help destigmatize social media use while empowering
users”. And for some it is ego-syntonic while for others it is ego-dystonic.
And without a doubt the creators value enhanced engagement. And for me it
is the user who decides to use these sources constructively, passively, or
destructively. Remember that alcohol users are urged “to drink responsibly”.
And clinicians realize that alcohol is the number two psychoactive agent
leading to premature morbidity and mortality (nicotine is number one).
Ms. Baughan offers these possible interventions. “We deployed several
interventions to help pause or reduce dissociation while scrolling on Chirp.
One intervention that was particularly effective was requiring our participants
to sort their content into lists by topic – say, news, sports and reality TV –
rather than having all subjects appear as an avalanche of information on one
main feed”.
She begins revealing her own obsession and compulsion to her phone.,
especially during the Virus lockdown. I choose to not own one; I do not want to
be randomly interrupted. And I never use social platforms, only professional
sites.
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