Firing off a tweet or status update is not unlike smoking a cigarette, new research suggests. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, social media may be just as addictive as cigarettes and alcohol.
Over 200 subjects delivered more than 8,000 reports and the results were clear: the toughest urge to resist was to check social networks online. Now, it wasn’t the most desired activity—sleep and sex overpowered lust for tweeting—but many of the subjects actually had more trouble resisting the urge to social network than ignoring their desires for booze and smokes.
Fortunately, it’s unlikely that social media will ever prove as dangerous as smoking and drinking us. Still, can we fight the temptation? The researchers discovered that, while possible, it isn’t easy; when social networkers ignored the urges at one point, they simply caved quicker the next time temptation rolled around. On top of that, lead author Willhelm Hofmaan noted, our willpower tends to erode throughout the day.
Perhaps today’s offices and schools should have a “tweeting pit” where employees and students can spend their breaks indulging in their favourite addiction among like-minded co-workers.