So, today I am taking a short sabbatical from my customary and habitual political diatribes. What prompted this sudden change was a rather unique situation, one which I thought I should share with all of you, hoping you will find it worth your valuable time to read.
It all started a couple of nights back as I dived into my Facebook page and to my great surprise, I found that I had been completely blocked-out from login in. No sooner did I find out, no sooner did frustration set in. I will spare you the details of what followed, suffice it to say that it took a few hours that night and the better part of the next today to fix the problem. Thank God for my son-in-law Larry, who happens to be a computer guru, maybe even a genius.
As I learned, after-the-fact, what happened was that there was some bug in the computer which triggered a log out of my FB account and for security purposes FB blocked it and forced me to reset it. By the way, braise yourself if this ever happens to you. To get your account back on FB, you better have an engineering and an IT degree To make matters worse, while fixing the problem Larry discovered that the technical staff at FB had decided on their own to simply change my identity, namely, my original email address which is used as their primary criteria in identifying you and your account.
In other words, I could never ever have logged back in my original account as FB had created a new identity for me and did not tell me about it. Bottom line, a mess, a royal mess, which took Larry the most part of four hours to figure it all out – God bless him.
By the way, if you ever have a technical problem with Facebook, and feel in need to contact them, chat with an agent, report a problem and/or get help to resolve a technical issue problem with a human, forget it. Take my word, your odds of winning one of those super lottery jackpots are much greater than connecting with a human being on FB. As the most popular social media platform in the world with 2.96 billion active users, you would figure, why would they worry about a little guy like Obie Usategui wanting to get back into his account.
Anyways, my narrative today is really not about how to Login in your “lost” Facebook account such as happened to me, I will save that for another day. My narrative is about a much more deep, insightful, and profound matter – one that really worries me. As I said before, my ordeal of recovering the FB account lasted almost 21 hours. During those hours, the anxiety level I felt over the thought of losing my FB account, was, simply said, unbearable, agonizing, and insufferable. Stress at its best!
And, just like that, it dawned on me, just how many people today are, as I am, addicted to the social media platforms. Besides Facebook, I look at usage of other platforms, i.e., YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc., and the numbers were simply staggering. So much so, I think it is fair to say that there is, in fact, a globalization of social media platforms –one I dared conclude is a social and/or anthropological phenomenon of sorts – all courtesy of the infamous internet.
I am not going to even attempt to analyze this social media phenomenon, instead, I shall leave that task to my good friend and renown psychiatrist, Dr. Fernando Milanes. That said, however, I must confess that my 21 hours without Facebook were a complete and true revelation of just how badly I am addicted to this medium. No sooner I had admitted to myself of my addiction, no sooner, I came upon the thought that these Social Platforms can really trigger an addictive behavior, can they not? – one, mind you, which professionals in the field refer to as a “Behavioral Addiction,” no different, from what I understand, than an addiction to gambling, to alcohol, or smoking.
The moral to my story today is the simple reality that, whether or not we realize it, there is a subliminal motivation to continue interacting with our fellow human beings via these social media platforms, to the point where, like what happened to me in those 14 hours that I was out of Facebook, there were some very real psychosomatic reactions. It actually affected my sleep, my level of anxiety, my level of stress. I realized these were all withdrawal symptoms, much like those I felt when I quit smoking some 15 years ago.
I tried to educate myself by reading the definition of “Behavioral Addiction,” defined as “an intense desire to repeat some action that is pleasurable or perceived to improve well-being or capable of alleviating some personal distress.” Ironically, I thought, this is precisely how I feel as I come back to Facebook and share all my political thoughts with you all. So, yes, I must be addicted, and so are billions of people all over the world. Admittedly though there are no good addictions, be it social media, or be it whatever, the word “addiction” in and of itself has a negative connotation – at the end of the day, like all addictions, it is a mental disorder, is it not?
So…can we conclude that billions of people all over the world are addicted to social media platforms? And, if the answer is “yes,” can we also then conclude that there are billions of people suffering from a mental disorder? Again, if our answer is “yes,” might we not then conclude also then that social media use is [the] world’s worst and largest pandemic ever – one which would make COVID 19 and all preceding pandemics pale in comparison.
The more I thought about this topic, the more controversial it was in my mind. On the one hand, I thought of all the positive things that social media brings to us. I thought of how good it feels to communicate with your friends, with others that come with global connectivity; of people that otherwise you would not even know exist. I would love to get Dr. Milanes’ input on this. I had always thought that human interactions led to better mental health. I always had thought human interactions lighten everyone’s mood and makes people happier, which lowers the risks of stress, depression, anxiety, and the like.
Bottom line, I thought, eventually, interacting with others promoted a sense of safety, of belonging, and security; it allows you to confide in others and let others confide in you as well. For that, I would assume that social media platforms can only lead us to a better, happier world, could it not? So, there is the dichotomy for me. Is social media addiction good or bad? Can we use social media in moderation? I know I cannot, can you? In conclusion, this is an interesting subject matter. For now, I have to say, as you can tell, the fact that I am writing this narrative only serves to prove that I am still addicted. And the fact that you are reading it tells me you too may be addicted. From my end, until I find the cure, I cannot help it, I will continue writing here in Facebook and hope you will continue reading my articles as you are today. Cheers everyone!