How bad is social media addiction? It's pervasive and may be getting worse.

I’m like one of those 350-pound blimps waddling into an all-you-can-eat buffet with “I Beat Anorexia!” on the front of his 4XL T-shirt.

Except I’d be standing in the center of a high-tech store, hollering, “I Beat Social Media Addiction!”

Not that anybody would hear me, of course. They’d be too occupied with the latest gizmo to even notice if the store caught fire.

No doubt you’ve seen these lost souls. They’re everywhere: In offices, churches, rec centers, shopping malls and restaurants, on sidewalks and street corners, in lines at the grocery store and fast food joints, even — gasp! — driving alongside you on the interstate.

Their heads are bowed as if in prayer, hands wrapped around a smartphone or iPad. Their fingers and thumbs are a blur as they exchange messages. When not asleep, they’re constantly searching for a fix from Facebook, Instagram, emails, tweets, texts and 10,000 other forms of digitized enslavement.

And to think I used to laugh at smokers who’d drive through a blizzard for a pack of Marlboros.

How bad is this addiction?

According to the Pew Research Center, 46 percent of Americans say they simply could not exist without a mobile device.

These folks never heard of food and water?

The pox may even be getting worse, thanks to a marketing lesson gleaned from Big Tobacco.

“Most of the major social network companies, as well as social content creators, are working hard every day to make their networks so addictive that you can’t resist them,” columnist Mike Elgan wrote for Computerworld, a biz-tech outfit.

It’s so pervasive, in fact, that social media cessation clinics are popping up across the land. Clients are taught how to train themselves to limit their screen exposure, just like counting calories at a weight-loss center. Perhaps this gives double meaning to the evils of “cookies.”

Time magazine recently joined the chorus. Its Oct. 2 issue offered 10 steps for achieving health and happiness.

Some were the stuff mothers have preached for eons: let go of grudges, pay attention to friendships, engage in random acts of kindness. All excellent.

But you know what topped the list?

“Explore life without social media.”

I’m no Luddite. Yet for the most part, my life rocks along blissfully in the absence of social media. There’s something wonderful about plain ol’ leisure time. Just walking outside. Feeling the wind in your hair and the sunshine on your back. Listening to the birds.

What’s that? You want to know the wind speed, the heat index and the source of a chirp you can’t identify?

Well, yes, sigh, there’s always an app for that.

-- Sam Venable