I absolutely hate it when I forget my phone at home. The thought of passing the day without text messages, access to the Internet, or calling my friends has made me late to class on several occasions because I had to go home and get my BlackBerry. My friends like to joke I’m addicted to my “CrackBerry” and other forms of social media, like Facebook and Twitter.
As it turns out, they might be correct.
A recent study conducted at the University of Maryland has concluded that “college students are ‘addicted’ to the instant connections and information afforded by social media.”
The study found that students who are forced to abstain from their preferred types of social media describe their feelings the same way alcoholics and drug addicts describe their time away from their substance of choice. Students who participated in the survey used terms such as “in withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery, and crazy” to explain how they felt without social media.
The 200 students who participated in the study, which was called “24 Hours: Unplugged,” were asked to write down their feelings and experiences with social media. The total words used were more than 110,000, which is about the same as a 400-page book.
“We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were ‘incredibly addicted’ to media,” said Susan D. Moeller, the project director. “But we noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family.”
So maybe it’s not the social media, but the social connection that we are so addicted to. One anonymous student seems to think so:
“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort. When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”
So next time that I am late to class because I forgot my phone, I plan on explaining that I am merely a victim of such a complex social network with my friends that “opting out of that communication pattern would be tantamount to renouncing a social life” all together.
I don’t know if my professor will cut me much slack, but at least I can explain to my parents why I constantly seem to be texting.