How addictive is social media? According to a soon-to-be released study from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, it is more addictive than alcohol or tobacco.
The school conducted an interesting experiment in Germany wherein it asked participants to describe their recent urges at regular intervals and gauge them based on how strong the urge was.
Guess what? Social media interaction was at the top of their list of strong urges.
Fortunately, social media has not yet been proven to cause cancer or any other debilitating illnesses. In fact, short of the after-effects of a "drunk Tweet" or posting embarrassing photos of yourself on Facebook, this addiction doesn't represent too great a risk to your well-being.
It does, however, seem to show that although social media has already altered our lives in profound and far reaching ways, it's really only just begun to have a true impact on the global community. This study only involved about 200 people. Nowhere near enough people to give a true indication of social media's impact on our lives. In fact, I'll bet you know some people right now who have never used social media and still consider it a waste of time, so there is definitely room for growth.
And what shape will this growth take? What will happen to social media when a generation comes of age who has never known a world without it? How much more will it be integrated into our lives? When businesses and brands forgo all other means of interaction to focus solely on social media for customer relations? When everything we do and say goes through our social media networks the world will have changed yet again.
It might become the way people get hired, do their work, learn, communicate and get involved in anything and everything. Perhaps in the future everyone will look first to social media before they do anything. Thinking of making a film? Test the water on social media first. Writing a song? See what fans want to hear. Television show? Use social media to find out who viewers want to star in your next vehicle.
Even the process of funding your next project might be better accomplished using social media.
Social media then will become not an addiction, but a tool we use every day to be more productive, more efficient and more involved in everything that impacts our lives. And as long as there are no long-term ill health effects, what's the harm in that?