Tags: social media addiction, technology addicts, suicide
Citing excessive use of Facebook and WhatsApp, the couple got into an argument over the issue that prompted Aparna's husband Kumar to take her phone away. Upset over the matter, Aparna locked herself in a bedroom, refusing to come out despite family members repeatedly urging her to surface. The young woman, a resident of India, is said to have used another phone to place a call to her older brother to inform him of what transpired. When Kumar eventually kicked the door down, he found his wife hanging from the ceiling, having used a long scarf called a dupatta to kill herself.
Distraught over the discovery, Kumar attempted to jump from a nearby terrace and commit suicide, although he was stopped as family members overcame him.
The story is a sad one, indeed.
FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is a real problem that creates depression, anxietyNothing else is currently known about the situation. It is entirely possible that other events might have triggered the woman's actions, but the reality is that cell phone use and cell phone withdrawal has been found to trigger large amounts of anxiety and depression in people. Could she have truly been so upset that her phone was taken away that taking her life seemed like the right thing for her to do? It's possible.
Consider the fact that the acronym "FOMO," or "Fear of Missing Out," is an actual phrase that has its roots in research. Studies have found that many people feel they must be constantly privy to the events unfolding on their phone and respond accordingly without hardly missing a beat. Going without their devices renders them anxious and depressed, and it can even diminish their sleep quality.
Then there is the study from researchers at the University of Winchester in England in which self-professed cell phone addicts were asked to stop using Facebook and Twitter for four weeks. The result? People reported feeling "cut off from the word," and one women even noted that she relied so heavily on social media to stay in touch with family that she hadn't communicated with them during that four-week time frame.
Billions are addicted to cell phones and social mediaIt's even more eye-opening to think of the amount of people who own a cell phone; just a few short years ago, there were 6 billion cell phone subscribers around the world, on par with the human population. When you think about it, that number sounds right.
After all, most of us know of people who have more than one phone, and we certainly know of others who treat social media as if it's as necessary as the air they breathe. We attach them to our hips, our wrists and our purses. We adorn them with colorful cases and cringe when they fall, as if we've accidentally dropped a baby or precious glassware from our late Aunt Dot. We bask in their glow from our own beds and are tempted to report a missing phone to the police when we can't locate it within five minutes. Families dine together, heads bowed not in a before-meal prayer, but to accept the latest Facebook friend request or read stock updates.
With billions of us engaging in such behaviors, it's easy to see that we're a society addicted to our phones and to social media.
Don't think you're one of them?
How to tell if you can't get enough of your cell phoneThere is a good chance that you are dependent on your device. Some indications that you could be addicted to your cell phone include sleeping with your phone (not putting in on a night stand, but actually keeping it in bed with you), severely panicking or canceling plans when it's lost, texting while driving despite knowing the related dangers, and relying on it to go about daily activities (calendar reminders, various alarms, etc).
While cell phone and social media use undoubtedly have their share of benefits, it's important to know they are not the be-all-end-all that define us or those around us.
Hopefully, we won't see more suicides that appear to be linked to lack of cell phone and social media use. No game request, picture of our dinner, or new pet announcement is worth it.
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