Home Hybrid Learning Social Media: Is it a Choice? Is it an Addiction? Is Anyone Responsible?

Social Media: Is it a Choice? Is it an Addiction? Is Anyone Responsible?


Social Media: Is it a Choice? Is it an Addiction? Is Anyone Responsible?

By Dr Ragnar Purje

The concept of personal responsibility is a central theme in the research, studies and the works of William Glasser, Albert Ellis, Marc Lewis, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Beginning with psychiatrist and education theorist William Glasser; Glasser declares that all behaviour is chosen. Therefore, all behaviours can, by choice, be changed in response to any thought or circumstance or situation. Expanding further on this, Glasser argues that it is an individual’s intrinsic motivation, and their personal attitude, that has the most influence over what the individual will think, do, say and choose.

In terms of choices, behaviours and responsibilities, writing in his book Choice Theory, Glasser focuses on three major person-centred principles: (1) that of personal choice; (2) that of personal responsibility, and (3) Personal transformation. In addition to these three person-centred principles, Glasser points out the following associated values: (a) All we do is behave; and (b) All behaviour is chosen. It is these imperatives that then leads on to what Glasser refers to as Total Behaviour.

Total Behaviour is about the universality of the following: (i) The only person whose behaviour we can control is our own; (ii) All we can give another person is information; (iii) All we do is behave. These Total Behaviour considerations involve the following criteria: acting; thinking; feeling and physiology. In terms of control, Glasser points out that we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components of this Total Behaviour; and we can only indirectly control our feelings and physiology, through how we choose to think and act.

In relation to behaviour and beliefs, Albert Ellis and his (REBT) Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy. Ellis informs that REBT specifically focuses on the beliefs of an individual. In terms of beliefs (which leads to choices, behaviours and consequences), Ellis affirms that it is the individual’s belief about a situation or event, that tends to lead the individual to have a response; this response could be cognitive, emotive or behavioural; or then again, it may involve all three of these constructs. That can result in the activation of choices and behaviours.

As such, the REBT counselling process that takes place, is to focus on and critically question and examine the individual’s beliefs. For example, if the individual believes that social media is “the cause” of their “social media addiction,” the REBT process is to critically question and challenge what Ellis declares would be an irrational belief; in that “social media” (the situation) is the cause of an addiction. In terms of consequences, it is the conscious self-directed action of a choice and behaviour that leads to a consequence. A construct – which in this case is social media – is not a behaviour.

Therefore, from an REBT perspective, if the individual is genuinely seeking to achieve any behavioural change to take place (which in this case is the behaviour of engaging with social media, i.e., the situation). As such, from an REBT perspective, what needs to take place is for the individual to recognise that it is acknowledging, accepting and understanding that what they are choosing to do is the problem; it is not the situation.

Ultimately, it is the chosen behaviours (not the social media situation) that is leading to the following: (1) the choice of turning on the computer, mobile or cell phone; (2) that of making the choice to consciously activate the required logon process; and (3) to then (again with conscious deliberation), to continue with this social media engagement for the length of time the individual is choosing to engage. All of these choices are owned and controlled by the individual.

Self-evidently the individual can choose to deny this reality, however, as REBT informs, changes in behaviour will only take place when the belief of the individual changes to where the individual axiomatically accepts the universality of their choices. Ultimately, the only one who can change this social media belief is the individual; which the individual is responsible for. The importance of personal responsibility is further reinforced by the research of Anita Woolfolk and others.

Dr Ragnar Purje: (PhD; M.Ed.; M.Ed.(Guid.&Couns.); M.Ed.(Lead.&Man.); B.A.(Psych.); B.App.Sc.(P.E.); Grad.Dip.Ed; Grad.Dip.SportSci; Grad.Dip.Ex.&SportSci; Grad.Cert.(Comm.); Grad.Dip.(Health Couns.); Certi.IV in Assess.&Workplace Training); author of Responsibility Theory, is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at CQUniversity in the School of Education and the Arts; where, with the support of Professor Ken Purnell, Dr Purje, presents Responsibility Theory classroom behaviour management lectures to preservice and graduate teachers.

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