Creative

Mar. 1, 2010 11:00 am

Is local TV news exaggerating social media addiction?

It’s been a pretty standard affair for local news, recently. Find someone “addicted” to social media�someone who is on sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter at work, perhaps utilizing it too much, too, by way of mobile phone. Then, seek an expert. Maybe a psychiatrist who’s work lately has perhaps included folks who are addicted […]

It’s been a pretty standard affair for local news, recently.

Find someone “addicted” to social media�someone who is on sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter at work, perhaps utilizing it too much, too, by way of mobile phone. Then, seek an expert. Maybe a psychiatrist who’s work lately has perhaps included folks who are addicted to social media, though none claim to have evidence of an increase in these kinds of people and none specifically recognize of any of these types of patients in their clientele.

So far, NBC10 and 6ABC have covered the topic, overindulging in the mostly evidence-less theory to pandaemonium-like proportion.

And somewhere in the middle of it all�and very prominently placed in both news reports�is Nnamdi Osuagwu, local writer and owner of publishing platform Ice Cream Melts who recently penned a fictional book called Facebook Addiction.

That Osuagwu’s book is fictional is an important designation. His work is only partly based on fact�he’s pulled stories from the New York Daily News that are social media-related and turned them into fictional accounts of how social networking has severely effected their lives; ending some relationships and affecting their jobs.

“Social Networking has many benefits, but some people take it to the extreme. My goal was to create a fictional world where that extreme was pushed to the limit and makes the reader question their social networking usage,” Osuagwu told Technically Philly in an email.

Below, watch 6ABC’s Erin O’Hearn’s report on social media addiction. Story continues below…

Osuagwu has even fictionally started Social Networking Anonymous, based on the well-known alcoholics anonymous program. But in the real world, that is, a world that revolves around fact, the club is only a marketing vehicle for the book, which Nnamdi has confirmed with Technically Philly.

This isn’t the first time that the idea of social media addiction has been used as a marketing tool for business. Sony, which satirizes the topic with its viral campaign Social Media Addicts Anonymous, even got play in NBC’s report. Except, the local network virtually fails to inform the viewer that the clip of SMAA that is cut into the report was a promotional campaign to sell Sony Vaio computers.

There’s been a fair amount of research Internet addiction, but as for reports specific to social media, little is available. A recent CNN story follows a similar arc as the local stories: anecdotal evidence with facts and figures absent.

So why is it, then, that NBC and ABC’s reports barely gloss over that this evidence is lacking and that these groups, like Osuagwu’s and SMAA, are fictional? We’ll leave that question up to you.

Is social media addiction real? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Below, compare Sony’s Social Media Addicts Association viral advertisement with NBC10’s Tracy Davidson’s news report on social media addiction that mentioned the group, but not that SMMA is a campaign to sell Sony Vaio computers..

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Brian James Kirk

Brian James Kirk is a cofounder of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Kirk was Web Editor of PlanPhilly, an independent online news resource covering planning and development issues in Philadelphia, and a freelance writer and designer. He resides in South Philadelphia.

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  • http://geekadelphia.com Eric

    Bah! Definitely over exaggerated. I heard about this post in my Google Reader, Buzz, Linkedin, off Twitter, via Facebook, and finally read it on my iPhone after it popped up in my Feedburner, but that doesn’t mean…

    Oh my God.

    I think I have a problem.

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