This is a big question, and theres only so much space to answer. The short answer is that it is exactly this poor emotional wellbeing that people are seeking an escape from, but this can take many forms. Obviously, people have their own individual circumstances, but what interested me was the societal and structural nature of poor mental health, particularly in the Anglo-American world, where these problems are considerably worse than continental Europe, as Oliver James has documented in Selfish Capitalism. Information for comparison on Austria is limited but in the UK depression is the most treated health condition by the health service, Besides clinical diagnoses, however, I tried to show in my book that the lived experience of late capitalism entails, amongst its CCTV surveillance cameras, junk food, austerity, and long working hours, a kind of background malaise, as if almost everyone knows that something is wrong, but few are able to identify or articulate exactly what it is.
What exactly is this background malaise?
This feeling is composed of various colours which mix together to make a nondescript, and rather dystopian shade of brown: extreme uncertainty about the future, a cultural stagnation in which the past is repeatedly rehearsed and there are no new ideas and movements, economic precarity – even for middle-class jobs like academics and lawyers, and a decline in broader social structures of belonging and solidarity, so that we are all "individuals against the world." My book deals with this subject in much greater detail in its third chapter.
Since Social Media are to be characterized by compulsive behaviour and psychological functions: Is it therefore very difficult to leave? Lots of people deactivate Facebook for example, but keep coming back.
Yes, leaving contemporary social media accounts is a bit like if, in order to move house, you were handed a petrol can and instructed to burn down your old house first. Designers of these systems know that the more important aspects of our lives are incorporated into them, the harder it will be emotionally for us to leave. Although Facebook users are now leaving in high numbers, up to a third of Facebook users have reportedly left the service only to reactivate. This really helpfully illustrates an important aspect of this whole phenomenon: we are human beings, not robots. Just as with smoking, or eating junk food, we continue to do things that we know are bad for us. As the great Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud made very clear in his work – the question is not whether or not we should do things that are irrational or harmful, the question is why.
You have stressed the importance of the timeline: What is the subjective emotional experience of the timeline?
Of the many features of Facebook, one of the most important, both for the company and its users is the "news feed." A very similar feature exists on nearly every social media platform, almost by definition. On Instagram its just indicated with a "home" icon, Twitter calls it a "timeline," on LinkedIn its a "feed," and on YouTube its just called "recommended." All of these parts of their respective services do something very similar: They provide a nearly limitless bank of algorithmically tailored content for the user to explore, and in so doing, harvest data in the form of the users various responses. Likes, clicks, retweets, saves, comments, are all data collection features dressed up as a means for the user to respond to and interact with those sharing the content and others viewing it. Even whether or not we watch a video or how long we spend watching it is collected.