If the fear of missing out is what drives people to post, tweet, like and share, then what apprehension prompts users to abandon the social media ship? A growing number of social media users are giving up social media accounts, claiming that peers on the site have made the experience competitive, vacuous and unfulfilling. This is not the case for most social media users, however. Anxiety over being “unliked,” experts say, has internet users hanging out online for updates and abandoning real world responsibilities in lieu of virtual commitments.
Experts report that social media users aged 30 and under are inclined to engage in social media habits for fear of missing out on updates, as well as falling behind on news and social media interaction. These users, research claims, see updates as an important tool for social development, and are admittedly dependent on social media.
A growing number of social media users, however, have turned a collective back on the incessant sharing that characterizes sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Users cite a wide range of reasons for “quitting” Facebook. A study by the University of Vienna found that a large majority of users who had canceled Facebook accounts in the past three years reported that a lack of privacy was at the top of a list of complaints about social media. Individuals also identified concerns such as shallow social conversations, feelings of low self-esteem, and an unspoken sense of competition between peers as reasons for cancelling Facebook accounts.
Being forced to view the self-inflammatory posts of others, as well as those who share one-sided content are also agitations that have caused some to leave Facebook. Hurt feelings occasionally occur over social media as well, and Facebook stalking is such a common occurrence that the term has become assimilated into modern vocabulary. Those who fall prey to the distractions of social networking and lose sight of its function have found that taking a social media break has helped former users remain focused and become more engaged in real world relationships.
By definition, sites like Facebook are social networking venues, designed with the purpose of job seeking, staying in touch with relatives, maintaining relationships, sharing news and interests with like-minded individuals and communalism. In 2014, Facebook alone boasted over 1.6 billion registered users. The benefits of social media, through sites such as Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+, vary for disparate audiences. All of these sites, however, center around fostering a sense of worldwide community, inter-connectivity and self-promotion.
A study by Badoo reports that 50 percent of users claim that the participation in social has a negative impact or consequence on daily life. The survey also substantiates that people lie or exaggerate about the details of life online, and that nearly 40 percent of Americans surveyed spent more time fraternizing online than in the real world.
The reason, then, that many social media devotees stand by being so connected? Experts have found that social media and gaming addiction are powerful forces. Researchers at Harvard University uncovered that the act of divulging information about oneself triggers the same part of the brain correlated to gratification. According to this study, the pleasure that users experience while sharing personal details on social media is equivalent to the reaction from eating food, receiving money, or engaging in sexual intercourse.
Over 3 million teens have fled from the site over the past three years, while users 55 and older are reportedly on the rise. Many users have “unliked” social media and are abandoning online social networking accounts in exchange for real life relationship building and networking opportunities. Accounts of those who have “quit” sites like Facebook admit there are features of social media that are practical, helpful and to be missed. Engaging in open conversation with friends on Facebook about trending news stories, some users say, is a positive way that social media enhanced lives. These users advise those not ready to release the social media yoke to consider tapering the number of hours spent online, and to actively remember the purpose that social media sites serve while tweeting, sharing and pinning.
By Mariah Beckman