Do You Know About The Dopamine Conspiracy Behind Like, Share & Comment?
We spend a considerable chunk of time on our social media accounts. Today, when you upload a photo or write about something on your “wall”, you expect people to react and give you a thumbs up. However, what you may not be aware of is that your actions and reactions on social-networking websites are predetermined and anticipated. Developers knew that you’d be enforced to visit your page or profile, which is their designed platform. Your frequent visits was amongst the foremost goals that all the leading social networking websites had before their launch.
But, what’s that makes you keep visiting the same page or launch the same application every now and then? Well, it is right there inside you and everybody, the pleasure hormone – Dopamine. Silicon Valley has been working towards taking over this brain chemical that makes sure that you go online more frequently. Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, recently admitted that social media was developed to distract and not unite us. At an event held in Philadelphia, he added, “The thought process was: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”
Read more :- 5 Best Apps To Fight Social Media Addiction
Dopamine is that valuable for the tech giants which is why we’ve prepared a knowledge based guide to explain everything in brief:
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine (C8H11NO2) is an essential chemical in the body that acts as a messenger between brain cells. In many of our daily behaviors and reactions, like, how we behave, learn, respond to a situation and even become a drug abuser, Dopamine plays an important role. Chemical messengers in the brain are pronounced as neurotransmitters, which commute across the space between the cells. Dopamine is that one substance that motivates you to do something again and again (as tested in labs).
The Dopamine effect can be learnt from day to day activities like, that one more soda you want to gulp down or another slice of pizza you want to eat. Yes, that’s a result of the motivation, which was signaled by Dopamine to your brain cells and thus now you want it. But why would Dopamine do that? Well, it’s because of the “reward” your body gives by making you feel good/happy when you do something it wanted and spike your Dopamine level.
If you look at its sinister side, you’d be able to relate it to yourself. One of the most sinful effect of Dopamine is addiction. And, therefore the Silicon Valley is abusing your pleasure hormone. Dopamine is responsible to make people feel a compelling need to practice something they have in habit. Even if a person knows all drawbacks, he would still go ahead and do it. One more example to this situation is drug abuse, where a person knows it harms but the “reward” of getting “high” motivates him.
How is Dopamine Related to Social Media?
Dopamine is a complex entity to understand in simple words. However, it can be taken as the substance responsible to make you addicted to something. When you receive the “reward” of being happy after consuming or performing something, Dopamine is the one that elevates. This spike in Dopamine is what makes you feel good, or high, if you’re on any recreational drug. So, does Dopamine really have something to do with your social media visits? Well, yes! Unfortunately, you don’t even realize that you’re being forced to check your account even if you know that there’s nothing on it.
According to Parker, “whenever someone likes or comments on a post or photograph, we… give you a little dopamine hit”. The target to gain as much as of your conscious attention and time, is what the Facebook developers’ team had planned long ago that now is exploiting a “vulnerability in human psychology”, he added.
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Another great way Dopamine motivates you is through the magic of may be, where you’re forced to think if you’d have got any message/like unchecked. If you analyze, you’d be surprised to see how many times in a day you just checked your phone for no apparent reason. The ‘maybe factor’ doesn’t let you stay stress free and pokes you to check your phone. Once you grab it, you can’t limit the time you’d be spending over it. If you see a message or a new like on your post, there you go. You’re rewarded with a spike in your Dopamine level to make you feel great. This is how it works.
Does it Affect Your Health?
It is true that social media is rewiring your brain. Although, Dopamine is just a transporter that carries messages among the brain cells, it is also responsible to drive your mood. It may not directly contribute to affect your physical health, but there’s a significant intervention to your mental health. This high addiction habit doesn’t have an age limit as we’ve got for drinking and other activities. It means, if you’re an adult, you’re capable of understanding the hidden threat of being addicted, but what about young children? As they won’t be able to get this monologue to their benefit.
When it comes to health threats, social media may contribute to high level anxiety, stress and depression. If you’re going to ask how? Please be informed that in a recent study it is found that an average social media user spends about two hours a day in checking, scrolling and doing nothing on account. According to Bailey Parnell, founder & CEO, SkillsCamp, in a TEDx talk spoke about four stressors that affect your health:
- Highlight Reel: When you open your Facebook or Instagram, you see your friends having fun on a vacation abroad. But, what you’re actually concentrating is just the highlight that your friend is showcasing. Even if there’s nothing great going in his/her life, you’d still think why couldn’t you afford a foreign vacation. Right then and there, you feel depressed and a failure.
- Social Currency: Social media has made you keen on knowing what others think about you. This is when you become a “product” that needs to be evaluated in terms of likes, comments and shares. This is how the economy of attention is attributing value to your life, where you want likes even on a forwarded post and keep a check on it by regular visits.
- Fear of Missing Out (F.O.M.O.): Today, when you think that social media is really a platform that brings everyone closer, you don’t dare to maintain a distance due to the fear of being left out. There’re people who can’t afford to go offline just because they think, this is the only way to know what’s going in whose life and they don’t want to be the only one, who don’t know.
- Online Harassment: Yes, it is also a mental illness when you publicly display your friends’ private messages and Snapchat. There’ve been cases where people have committed suicide over such issues. Online trolling, bullying and harassing is another way you’re being targeted and unknowingly contributing your part.
How to Control it?
Social media isn’t bad if you don’t fuel it with your time and anxiousness. One of the best way to take control over things is to take out all the insecurities. You shouldn’t expect anyone to praise or respond to your post/pictures or check-ins. There are myriads of people who wouldn’t care if you’re sharing something on a social media platform, you need to be ready and accept it. Just like you don’t blame Samsung for a bad TV show, don’t expect these website to cater to you the best that can make you feel good with a dopamine shot. There are some good ways that Bailey Parnell suggests to get over this social media addiction:
Read more :- Good and The Bad Effects of Social Media
- Recognize the Problem: Admit that you’re spending too much time or you can’t resist without checking your phone. If you feel anxious and run to check the notification on a “phantom vibration”, you need to control it. One good news about this addiction is that you’re less motivated to check on your phone, if you recognize this issue.
- Audit your Social Media Visits: Observing your visits and the frequency to launch the social media app would be helpful to know the level of addiction. Once you know how often and for how long you go over these sites to check on others, it should motivate you to limit it. Here, you can seek help from a dedicated app Social Fever that is designed to help you audit your visits and provides you with exact statistics. The app is free to download and has a very high success rate in leaving this addiction.
- Create a Better Online Experience: Limiting your following and subscribes helps you limit your visits. If you’ve got unnecessary pages and people subscribed, you’d be notified for every post, which is every now and then, that would distract you and force you to take a look.
- Adopt Good Behavior: Adopting a nice and generous behavior online and not trolling and harassing others is another good practice. You don’t have to be a bully or troller that would expect reactions over sarcastic and offending posts.
Overall, it is important that we don’t abuse the Dopamine sensitivity in our body this new way. Receiving a like/comment gives you a spike in Dopamine, which is slightly lesser than the kick you get after Cocaine. It is important that you don’t let other substances or habits decide your mood and behavior. If you know some more ways to avoid social media addiction, do let us know in the comments below.