Our brain demands it.
In theory, social media are hugely beneficial for people. Facebook helps them connect with each other and be closer to their interests. Twitter is a perfect place to discover the news the fastest and Instagram is for aesthetic pleasures.
Is social media addiction?
But in 2017 we know that reality is very far from theory. In fact, science starts to explore the effects of social media not only on society as a whole but also on humans and their brains.
And many agree on one thing: we can easily get addicted to social media.
Dr. Robert Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist who recently gave an interview to ‘Financial Times’ and talked about his new book ‘The Hacking of the American Mind.' In its essence, this book is about addictions: how they work and why are people so prone to them.
Pleasure vs. happiness
Dr. Lustig thinks that part of the problem lies in the dichotomy between pleasure and happiness. The former is quick and instant. The latter is long-term, is more of a state of mind than a flash feeling. People mistake one and another.
The feeling of pleasure comes from the reward system embedded in our brain. Every time we do something that we are addicted to, we get a dopamine hit (and then we want more of it). But dopamine decreases serotonin, which makes us feel calm and happy.
To put it shortly: you feel pleasure for a couple of seconds, but eventually, you experience no happiness.
And that’s why addicts in the long term look miserable.
Slot machines in your pocket
Opening your smartphone does not require much energy, plus it informs you constantly that he needs your attention because of all those push notifications. And even if nothing worth notifying is happening, many just can’t help but turn their phone on to see what’s going on and scroll through Instagram feed for several minutes and see nothing worthy of attention.
Smartphones, which Dr. Lustig calls ‘slot machines in your pocket,' also give people a dopamine hit. He compares social media to drug dealers in schoolyard which provide teenagers with free drugs and guarantee themselves a client for life.
At first, people just need a couple of minutes of social media time to feel some pleasure. But because they need more and more of dopamine, that time quickly grows. Eventually, social media addicts will require an enormous dopamine hit (so plenty of minutes on Facebook or Twitter) and feel absolutely nothing.
Social media and unfinished projects
In some cases, social media can then lead to sadness and even depression. It’s not an addiction that manifests itself in destroyed families and careers, but even in mild cases of social media addiction people become worse in their jobs and personal relationships. How many times did you struggle with finishing your project because something urgent was happening on Facebook? Ultimately most people get the job done, but it might not be a masterpiece.
Disable all notifications
Fighting every addiction is hard, and it’s the same case with social media and how it is embedded in our life. For example, many projects have a Facebook group that helps coordinate any activities so it may be even impossible to quit social media entirely.
But cutting your social media time significantly is indeed achievable. The first step is disabling social media notifications. You could also try to remove as many apps as possible.
Many need external motivation to do it. At Omni Calculator we’ve created Social Media Time Alternatives Calculator which tells you what can you achieve if you spend your social media time differently. Look how many books you could read!