When Social Media Become Addictive

There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn…and that’s not counting email or YouTube or other online time-consumers that aren’t social media but which can call out to us daily.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these. Used selectively and wisely, in moderation, they can accomplish a good purpose—maybe you get updates from family and people you care about, or perhaps prayer requests and thoughts and Scripture quotes that can help you live with a Christ-centered perspective. And there’s nothing wrong with entertainment that’s positive and pure.

But when social media and online time is out of control, like television watching or talk radio or sports or stamp collecting, it can become an addiction—just like anything else. Those who are addicted to Facebook, for instance, and use it to relieve boredom imagine it’s a solution to their unhappiness. Sadly, the addiction brings the very unhappiness they’re intended to relieve.

Ed Welch, author of the excellent book Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, writes, “Your addictions are linked to your relationship to God more than you realize. You can’t ignore that.”

We need to understand that our thirst for happiness and excitement and pleasure can ultimately only be fulfilled in Jesus Christ: “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). 

I appreciated this article by Tony Reinke that explores the consequences of boredom-induced addiction to Facebook:

Facebook Obsession and the Anguish of Boredom

Facebook has never been more addictive.

In 2013, it was 63% of Facebook users who checked in daily. In 2014, that number shot up to 70%. If you check Facebook day after day, you join over 864 million others with the same compulsive routine.

For many of us, Facebook is a kind of addiction, a default habit that is now rewiring our brains.

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Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries