Social media is fuelling a new type of addiction driven by an obsession with ourselves.
Being ‘addicted to yourself’ is a condition with parallels to serious alcohol, drug or gambling addiction, according to a new study.
Social media is fuelling a new type of addiction driven by an obsession with ourselves. Being ‘addicted to yourself’ is a condition with parallels to serious alcohol, drug or gambling addiction, according to a new study (stock image)
The new theory has been developed by University of Derby researcher Dr William Van Gordon, who says it explains a third ‘missing’ type of addiction.
He said: ‘It is generally accepted among the scientific community that there are two forms of addiction; chemical, such as addiction to drugs and alcohol, and behavioural, for example, addiction to gambling or computer games.
‘However, this new theory proposes that there is a third type of addiction called ontological addiction – the addiction to how we believe we exist.
‘Being addicted to ourselves becomes exhausting after a certain amount of time and causes us to miss out on the truth and wisdom of reality.’
Dr Van Gordon’s theory draws on evidence from various disciplines of scientific enquiry.
He said research has largely overlooked the possibility of ontological addiction, despite it missing all of the criteria for a genuine form of addiction.
The rise of social media has allowed the issue to multiply as websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram encourage us to obsess over how we are perceived by others (stock image)
For example, people with the condition will often experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to overcome their addiction.
‘The tendency to become addicted to self is probably something that human beings are born with,’ he said.
‘However, we cement or weaken our ego and belief in selfhood, depending on how much we live out our lives through the lens of “me, mine and I”.’
Dr Van Gordon said social media was an example of how people can become more addicted to themselves.
He added: ‘Problematic social media use can cause people to be drawn further into the condition and its associated negative consequences.
HOW SEVERE IS SMARTPHONE ADDICTION?
With the average age for a child to get their first phone now just 10, young people are becoming more and more reliant on their smartphones.
Worrying research from Korea University suggests that this dependence on the technology could even be affecting some teens’ brains.
The findings reveals that teenagers who are addicted to their smartphones are more likely to suffer from mental disorders, including depression and anxiety.
Other studies have shown people are so dependent on their smartphone that they happily break social etiquette to use them.
Researchers from mobile connectivity firm iPass surveyed more than 1,700 people in the US and Europe about their connectivity habits, preferences and expectations.
The survey revealed some of the most inappropriate situations in which people have felt the need to check their phone – during sex (seven per cent), on the toilet (72 per cent) and even during a funeral (11 per cent).
Nearly two thirds of people said they felt anxious when not connected to the Wi-Fi, with many saying they’d give up a range of items and activities in exchange for a connection.
Sixty-one per cent of respondents said that Wi-Fi was impossible to give up – more than for sex (58 per cent), junk food (42 per cent), smoking (41 per cent), alcohol (33 per cent), or drugs (31 per cent).
A quarter of respondents even went so far as to say that they’d choose Wi-Fi over a bath or shower, and 19 per cent said they’d choose Wi-Fi over human contact.
‘For instance, when using social media, people can construct another layer of selfhood that feeds on likes, shares and followers for its existence, but that does not reflect an accurate portrayal of the individual’s true nature.
‘If we interact with social media and technology mindlessly and are used by them, they tend to draw us away from the present moment.’
He said a mixture of meditation and a move to broad our awareness of ourselves can help solve the problem.
‘To know whether a person has ontological addiction, they would need to be honest with themselves and investigate the extent to which their ego governs their thoughts, words and actions,’ he said.
‘For example, when performing an act of kindness, a person could ask themselves whether deep down they are actually hoping for some kind of gain, reward or recognition.’