The trouble with the diagnosis of “Social Media Anxiety Disorder” however, apart from being unofficial, was that the headline grabbing description was inappropriate and inaccurate because social media had nothing to do with Will’s illness. Will wassimply a person with a serious addictive personality trait so his illness and symptoms weren’t caused by Facebook at all: Facebook was just a symptom, an innocent catalyst for his addictive behaviour. If Facebook and social media had never existed, Will would have instead become an alcoholic, an online gambler or a ‘WOW’ addict. Facebook’s only crime, if any, was to become popular worldwide at a time when Will reached the most vulnerable period in his life.Will latched on to the grip of Facebook and social media because it was trendy and everyone he knew was doing it.
The reality of the situation was that engaging himself on Facebook helped Will tackle his fragile self-esteem by fabricating everything he wrote into an extroverted version of his introverted self. The initial thrill and self-gratification he received from his activities were always quickly followed by a strong shot of pride and self-admiration. This feeling of euphoria never lasted very long because italways bounced back to him in the form of more events, actions and comments which he was then forced to digest, second guess, ascertain and evaluate. The result was that he became over anxious from all the constant worrying about what other people thought about him, trying to remind himself of his own value and worth, while also at the same, trying desperately to prove it.
Social networks’ seemingly never ending reward system meant he was unable to turn off the need to continue engaging himself because he was fighting an inner battle not with Facebook but with his neuropeptides, small endorphins that affected his brain when it came to pain, reward, learning and memory. Because they provided a vital link to his body’s feelings of excitement, fear and love, his body was overdosed on chemicals that made him feel euphoric and despondent at the same time. The more he relied on Facebook to feel normal, the more pronounced the withdrawal became when he was forced to manage without it, causing him anxiety, irritability,intense cravings, cold sweats and tremors. He simply could no longer function properly unless Facebook was constantly in his life.
In common with other people who suffered some form of addiction, Will refused to believe he had a problem and hence lived his life in a state of constant self-denial. As the long term effects of his addiction took hold of him in the guise of bad school performances, lack of sleep and exercise, it was only his close family and friends who noticed he was in trouble. But, because they didn’t have the means to properly diagnose his condition, they simply blamed all his problems onFacebook, the devil’s incarnate!
Copyright Roger Gerald Scott
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