The real reason why we’re addicted to social media

I tend to get really, really irritated with all those dismissive Millennial tropes, but one that is, admittedly, accurate is that we’re on our phones, like, all the time. Like, I literally just checked my IG after writing that sentence. It’s a problem. Glamour Magazine recently sat down with Dr. Monica O’Neal, a clinical psychologist and relationship expert, who revealed the real reason why we’re addicted to social media. And it’s not pretty.

This is, obviously, not the first time that Millennial social media use has been in the news. Remember when everybody and their mom were Candy Crush fiends?  Off, that was a dark time. According to a recent survey by Global Web Index, people are now spending 1.72 hours a day on social media platforms, while the total amount of time we spend online has risen from 5.5 hours in 2012 t0 6.16 in 2014.

So why all this Internet-ing? Welllllll, turns out, the rush of dopamine that we get from people liking our tweets or swiping right on our Tinder profiles is physiologically similar to a hit of cocaine; the same factors at play with serious gambling, binge eating and shopping addictions are contributing to our social media usage.


When bell hooks (an incredible, contemporary, intersectional feminist queen who you should all read immediately if you haven’t already) recently took the stage during her New School panel series, she discussed the importance of being okay with being alone with yourself – and noted that if you’re on your phone, even if the room is empty, it’s not a solitary moment, and you’re not being forced to address the realities of your emotional well-being. With that in mind, here are a few ways for all of us tech-addicts to gently, slowly unplug, just a little teeny tiny bit.

30 minutes before bed, turn off your electronics 

Make it a truly solitary moment. Write in a journal. Sit quietly. Reflect on the day. Studies have shown that even 10 minutes of meditation a day can help alleviate anxiety, depression and pain, so go ahead and get in a few “OMs” before you snooze.

Invest in an actual alarm clock 

And stop relying on your phone. Try to keep your bedroom electronic-free as much as possible. Charge your phone and laptop in the living room or the kitchen or the bathroom – literally anywhere but in your bed.

Delete your apps

Are you refreshing your Instagram feed constantly? Mindlessly swiping through Tinder? Deleting apps that you spend the most time on, even temporarily, can help ease you out of the social media hole. After a week of abstaining, check in with yourself and see if you feel any more… present.

(Image via ABC Family)