Within the last two weeks I have been reading a number of articles that make the point that social media is a great deal like an addictive drug.
The core of this argument is that when we engage in social media - when we are "liked" by someone for something that we have said - our brains get a small shot of dopamine, that reward to a stimulus that makes us feel pleasure and good about something. We can get it from other items as well - exercise, for example, can result in this if engaged it - but social media is a whole lot easier for the population to engage in.
As I read these articles, an aspect of my behavior suddenly become apparent to me.
I am always a great deal more likely to check social media like FaceMagazine when I have posted something. And sure enough when I do, I find that I get that little jolt of happiness: "Look, X liked my comment - or look there, Y gave me a little heart on my comment." I keep going back and back until the stream has played out and the comments have disappeared. And then, if I am not careful, I am back to looking for something else to give the same reaction.
In other words, I have become an addict.
If one is an addict, of course, one has only two options. The first is simply to do nothing and continue on - but that eventually leads to destruction as we are continue crave the jolt more and more and the old jolts just no longer do the job. We would have to stay on FaceMagazine longer and longer to get the same level of excitement (which, of course, is exactly what the founders of it were hoping for).
The second, of course, is to go cold turkey. To cut it off completely. To find the dopamine hits from legitimate pursuits instead of short cuts.
I will note in passing that blogs do not seem to have that same effect. I pondered this a bit and decided that perhaps it is due to the fact blog comments are discussion and thoughts, as well as "likes". I look forward to comments but do not react to them with the same sort of enzymatic glee.
Oddly enough, drug addiction due to craving of the dopamine receptors is seen as destructive and not productive. How is it that we have not come to view social media in the same way?