Bad for relationships
I've read several articles about how damaging such an addiction can be. I can certainly see how it is corrosive to relationships. It must be infuriating for a man or woman if their partner spends more time tweeting, liking and following others online than they do conversing with them face to face!
I'm not actually involved with anyone at the moment. So this downside doesn't effect me. But now I'm starting to think that maybe I'm not in a relationship because of my social media addiction? Well, I don't think it's the main reason but it could well be a contributing factor ...
The problem is that online social networking activity is a replacement for old fashioned human contact. But it's not as good as the real thing.
Real human contact still preferable
When you catch up with a friend at a cafe, for example, you're doing something substantial that reaffirms your affection for this person, and vice versa. Just making the effort to meet someone is an undeniable sign of their value to you. When in their presence, you focus all your attention on them, and they on you. It's this intimate and meaningful process that really feeds your soul.
But with social media, you get all these little hits of attention from people all around the world. Sure, they're not completely meaningless, but they are generally pretty shallow. They're easily given and taken.
You can connect online with people locally too. It's funny, there are some people in my city of Perth with whom I've built up quite a rapport on social media. But I haven't actually met them face to face. Not sure if that's healthy ... I think it probably isn't.
A social media habit has some benefits
That said, I don't think a social media addiction is all bad. Apart from anything else it can have financial benefits. You can use it to build an online business, for example.
The speed at which social media interaction is conducted also hugely increases your information processing capacity. Repeatedly scanning articles for sharing potential trains you to comprehend their central points very quickly and efficiently. So you can learn much faster as a result.
In the last few years I've learned more about a whole bunch of things thanks to social media (Twitter in particular) than I did in decades past. It's just amazing how much it enables you to get through!
Downsides not permanent
There is a downside here, of course. Constantly logging into social networks and engaging like crazy can reduce your capacity for finding nuance and subtlety. Those things tend to come after longer periods of relaxed contemplation, after all.
That said, I don't think a social media addiction permanently destroys your abilities in this regard. If you quit, or at least greatly reduce your social media use, there's no reason you can't resume the slower and more thoughtful pace you had before.