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Aggression, Abuse and Addiction: Don't Become Anti-Social


Social media (SM) addiction is real. We live in a social age where everyone is connected to the internet via their smartphones, and usage of SM sites are on the increase. Don’t believe me? Facebook addiction is searched 350 times more than cigarette addiction.

According to there are 2.65 billion users of SM (data gathered 2018) worldwide. This number is forecast to increase to over 3 billion in the next two years.’s research indicates that the global average of time spent on social networks each day is steadily increasing too, up from 1 hour 30 in 2012 to 2 hours 23 minutes in 2019. Roughly 45% of the world’s population use SM, and of those, 60% saying they’re constantly connected, whilst a huge 98% say they’ve used it in the past month.

The most popular site is Facebook, followed by Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and finally Twitter.

Every second an average of 6000 tweets appear on twitter ( which amounts to 500 million per day.  Crazy, isn’t it?

Facebook says their chat reaches 1 billion messages sent per day. With 1.62 billion daily active users of the main site, users access Facebook an average of 8 times per day, and each day, 35 million people update their statuses.  

Facebook’s website states: “Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.” Sounds lovely doesn’t it? But what about the people who use it to spread hate, fake news, and to cyber bully? What about them Facebook?

The most common age demographic for Facebook is age 25-34. Which falls neatly into the yachting demographic. And SM addiction in our industry is on the rise.  Captain Bob* said “All crew these days seem to think it’s their god given right to have high speed unlimited internet on any yacht they join, wherever they are. I’ve had crew having meltdowns mid atlantic because they were unable to update their status or post one of their videos to their youtube channel. Seriously. It’s a problem. I had no idea I’d hired an influencer – and I still don’t even really know what that means.”

Getting crew off their phones during work hours is an issue. Safety wise phones are a distraction, and how many hours a week of productivity are lost by crew “just checking” their SM feeds? Captain Ezra* told us “I have had no choice but to ask the chief engineer to switch the wifi off during working hours, and only put it back on during breaks. Plus in the evenings I have him limit the download so crew can’t download movies – especially when the guests are on as they get priority! Crew just don’t seem to understand that.” Captain Bob went on to add “One evening I walked into dinner to find nobody talking to each other, everyone glued to their screens. Honestly it was the most depressing sight, so I banned phones from meal times. There was uproar at first but now I actually have a happier more cohesive crew because they’ve actually mastered the art of communicating in real life! A lost art these days.”

Why is SM so addictive? Well, the rush of dopamine you get from likes and comments is basically programming your brain to desire more. Senior Dual Diagnosis Clinician|Social Worker and ex yacht crew member Tarryn Burrows told me, “It can be a source of comfort or a security blanket on a boat when you’re lonely, or not having the best time with those you’re working with.

People become so reliant on the connection with family and friends (or random strangers) that it affects the social interaction with those around you, or reinforces the notion that you’re not part of the crew...double edge sword of isolating yourself even more and feeds into that addiction and fuzzy warm feeling of dopamine.”

A study from Harvard University has showed that SM interaction triggers the same reaction in the  brain that occurs when we take an addictive substance such as cocaine. This, surely, cannot be a good thing… A study carried out by the University of Maryland asked students not to use SM for 24 hours. Their findings were not really surprising, students felt disconnected from the world without their primary source for news (the fact Facebook is used for news is a worry in itself but I digress!), but more worryingly, reported feelings included “frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, jittery and crazy”.

Stewardess Jen told us “I have actually experienced anxiety when I’ve opened my Instagram to see I haven’t got as many likes as I was hoping for. Even though I tell myself it’s ridiculous, my self esteem genuinely suffers and it affects my moods.”

And then there’s the whole selfie taking. How many crew are guilty of uploading selfies on a daily basis? And how long does it take to get that perfect photo… Tarryn said, “I’ve seen a stew do this while we had guests on board, even asking a guest to take the photo for her.”  I’m sure that ended well…

If you take at least 3 selfies a day for your SM accounts, you probably have what’s been recognised as “selifitis”. Researcher Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan said: “Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to 'fit in' with those around them, and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviours…Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behaviour, and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.” And there I was just thinking people were vain. Instagram is definitely more popular for selfies – I actually carried out a recent experiment to see how my SM audiences differed. I uploaded a bikini selfie to both Facebook and Instagram. My Facebook friends mostly ignored my narcissim whereas my insta blew up with likes. And I hate to say it but… that felt… good.  Ugh I feel so grubby.

How do you know if you’re addicted to SM? Well ask yourself this – do you think that SM is preventing you from doing your best work or reaching your potential? If you think it might be… well it’s time to break the habit.

Firstly, figure out why you’re addicted. Are you bored? Stressed? Feeling disconnected? Once you know the trigger you can start to make changes to whatever is causing you to head to SM for validation.

Secondly make it harder for you to check your feeds. Schedule your SM time – leave your phone in your cabin, put it on do not disturb, or switch the internet off until a designated time slot and stick to it.

Next you need to replace your SM time with something more worthwhile. Ok, it might be a case of actually doing your job… but if we’re talking about your downtime, you need to get more hobbies! If you can, get outside. If you’re cabin bound try a meditation, a breathing exercise, yoga – or how about we go old school and play a boardgame with a crew mate? Cards? You need to retrain your brain into heading for an activity rather than reaching for your phone when you’re feeling bored/stressed.

Do it with a friend if you can, who’s happy to pull you up if you feel weak. If you can’t confide in anyone then use an app like Google’s “accountability”! There really is an app for everything. I know that because I saw it on Facebook… (joking).

And finally – reward yourself! If you want to, reward your day of avoiding SM by allowing yourself an hour of it, or maybe not – maybe completely ignore it and buy yourself a treat instead.

Overall, stay positive, don’t get sucked into the negativity that SM can nurture – there’s a big wide world out there and remember why you joined yachting. It was to see the world, not sit in a dark cabin comparing your life on SM to everyone else’s. And believe me, the lives we all portray on SM are simply not all that real are they?


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