According to scientists at Stanford University, social media is also affecting our ability to multitask, with a study showing people who spend a significant time on social media were "more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli" and less able to complete more than one task simultaneously."It's the 17 screen syndrome," affirms Michael."We're getting elite students who can't submit work worthy of reading and it happens when Facebook or Snapchat is open, they've got a video game going, they're instant messaging, they've got work open, they've got a news site open, they've got a live feed on the cricket going…"If you throw too much at it, your brain just stops.
A study by two German universities into social networking found that one in three people surveyed felt worse ("lonely, frustrated or angry") after spending time on Facebook, often due to perceived inadequacies when comparing themselves to friends."People see this pressure to present yourself in the best light online, because it has to do with reputation," says Michael, who says that depression and anxiety can be a real issue among users.So peel his request for cyber-sex back to the underlying issues and uncertainties there: “Is our relationship going to be a sexual one?” and “How do we sustain a fulfilling connection across this physical distance?The danger, explains Michael, is that people are opting for this online gratification at the expense of the real world."Researchers have said the internet gives us more of a dopamine kick than having chocolate, than having sex, than achieving high results, than winning a medal, these things we used to strive for that were so important to us a society," she says."Even contact between two people, the most intimate thing in the world, gets superceded, because people get more of a fix from friends or even strangers 'liking' them, than the person sitting next to them in the bed with a similar device.Even a cuddle now, is not the same as, 'Oh, 50 people just liked my photo'."Michael adds that this can be problematic because people are starting to miss out on the true, physical sensations of needing cuddles or eye contact."We're starving for acceptance, but not from our own homes, which is the primary place we all sought comfort."It's setting boundaries," says Michael."We've got to have that reflection time, whether it's through meditation, a game of sport, or whatever takes your fancy.It's saying, let's get real, this technology is here to stay, but let's try to minimise its impact at home – not in the car, not in the kitchen and not in the bedroom.He hopes I’ll change my mind but I’ve told him I won’t! The most basic and straightforward answer is that your partner should never pressure you to do something you don’t want to do. It’s always slightly more complicated than that; even your letter, with its hints of your past experiences and his previous undisclosed “behaviour” proves that. You’re both committing to a long-distance relationship, which by nature demands a lot of sacrifice, a lot of compromise, and the hope that it will all be worth it in the end.You also hint that he has hurt you, and you’re now trying to re-establish your trust and connection.Katina Michael, Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong's School Of Information Systems and Technology in Australia, has done extensive research on online usage and how it affects us.She explains that the attraction to social media is the same thing that attracted us to Pong, one of the first computer games ever invented – a tennis-like game where users had to hit back a ball against a computer-driven paddle."What made us move then – and what motivates us now – is a dopamine reaction, a dopamine fix that says 'react'," she says.