I know you should not bite the hand that feeds you, as the saying goes, as for me social networks are an integral part of my media here in Thailand but on a personal level I hate the addictive controls social networks have on me, my wife and just about all other expats I come into contact with.
Just recently, such was my frustration, I have started to leave my smartphone at home when ever I go out in the evenings for dinner. Interestingly, I never missed having the phone on me, in fact it was rather pleasant.
There is indeed some irony in the premise of social networks, they are designed to make it easier for us to share what we are up to and see what our friends are up too. That is the premise but, for me, it is not the reality. Here is my theory, see what you think: Facebook, Instagram and the likes has made us narcissistic and ego driven. We post images and video to satisfy our inner needs. Apart from close friends and families why should we care about our friends needs to see what we are up too, it can only be for our own gain.
You can see where I am going in today’s blog, it is very much a rant and a rant out of frustration. Every evening when my family and I are in bed everyone has a mobile phone in their hand, it has turned into a habit. I often scroll through my social network feeds and always think to myself why I do it, as it does not make me feel good and I don’t gain anything from the experience, yet I am drawn to look every day, in fact multiple times a day. I am not alone: 1.62 billion people on average log onto Facebook daily and are considered daily active users (Facebook DAU) for September 2019.
The Smartphone is a global epidemic and expats are more at risk of addiction
We are in an epidemic. The average person, and you can google this to check for yourself, looks at their mobile phone 150 times a day. It is ridiculous, and I am part of this statistic too. I have tried more recently to use my ‘mobile phone’ time to enrich myself – so less time on the social networks and more time reading interesting articles or websites. It has certainly been far more beneficial than seeing my distant friends plate of food that they have shared on Facebook.
As I was researching online I came across a statistic too that Expats have a higher propensity than average to use Facebook as it is a way of keeping in contact with friends and family back in their domestic countries. Plus, and again this is a sweeping hypothesis by myself, there is a good chance your partner here in Thailand is Thai, and it is well known about Thais addictive qualities which means they will play with their phones far more than average. In fact Thais spend on average 160 minutes a day on their smartphones, the second highest in Southeast Asia behind Malaysia. What this means is in the evening there is a very high chance you partner is playing on their phone and if you can’t beat them, join them. You follow suit.
On top of this, if you are a retired expat then you have more leisure time on your hands, a very nice problem – if you use that time correctly. However with your trusty phone always within arms reach it can be very easy to fall into the trap of having just another quick look…
All of these factors got me summising that as an expat in Thailand we could be at a far higher risk than average of social network addiction.
The smartphone is probably the most significant invention in the last century. It has proven to disrupt just about every aspect of our lives. It is top of the tree when it comes to being a game changer. The issue is are we are humans losing control and become far too dependent on our phones?
It could very well be, as my final word on the subject, that expats are more at risk of social network addiction than most other social demographics. The irony of this blog is there is a high probability that you stumbled across this whilst browsing your news feeds on Facebook!