Humans have, and always will be social creatures. Being social is just as instinctive for humans as the need for food and water to live. This innate instinct is what enables social media to thrive in today’s world.
If you travel back in time to pre-complex civilization, you’ll find it impossible to survive alone. Being that “lone wolf” decreased your chances of survival. You were much safer from predators and other humans if you were in a small group, tribe, or community.
Social media creators capitalized on two fundamental human drives:
- Belonging to a group, as mentioned before, and
- Displaying hierarchical status (i.e. who gets the most likes/comments or has the most followers).
Nothing wrong with this from a far.
People join competitive sports, clubs, etc. but what makes social media any different?
Why do studies link anxiety, depression, fear of missing out (FOMO) to social media usage?
And why is it so hard to delete social media apps from our phones?
All Addictions Are Alike
Whether it’s sticking a needle in your arm, donating to charity, buying a lottery ticket, shopping online, or uploading a picture to Instagram, all these actions cause the same chemical response in our brains.
Our neurological reward system lets us know when to do things over and over again through the release of dopamine. Without it, you’d have very little motivation to do anything. Dopamine release is why you reach for another cookie, buy those luxury shoes, and, in this case, upload/update content on social media.
Social media isn’t the issue here. The problem lies in our pockets, our cell phones. Before interactive cell phones, social media usage took sitting at a computer to do. No one had time for that.
Now, humans have constant dopamine hits right in their hands. Anything that causes dopamine hit after dopamine hit WILL develop into a habit, and usually a bad habit at that.
If you care to join, let’s run a few experiments.
Take your phone and set it aside. Nine times out of ten you won’t be able to hold off from scrolling through social media within the next six hours.
Better yet, delete all social media apps from your phone. Count down how long it takes you to redownload them all, IF you deleted them in the first place.
If you can’t do either, you’re addicted.
People don’t seem to realize that 99.9999% of what’s on social media IS NOT real. Yes, the people, places, pictures are real, but it’s just one snapshot, one picture of someone’s life, NOT the reality of it. Many people on social media platforms have lots of likes/comments and plenty of followers, yet are miserable.
Study after study has shown that an increase social media usage correlates to depression and false self-image, and this is why:
People scrolling through social media are comparing their lives to everyone’s edited, filtered highlight reel of others’ life, and it will never make you feel “good” about yourself.
Our generation is the first to deal with the little researched effects of social media. Generations following us have social media consumption throughout their entire life, which is not a good thing. Every generation after us has a reported higher rate of mental disorders, which is without any doubt correlated to their higher usage of social media on their hand held phones.
How to stop?
The best way to understand and see for yourself the effects of not using social media is through forced means. For me, it was going 200 miles offshore with no service, but not everybody has the opportunity to do this.
For a few of my friends, it took deleting social media apps off their phones. They all claimed a sense of clarity once they got rid of the constant dopamine hits and life comparisons that come with social media use.
Moderation is key, but I recommend deleting social media from your phones since it’s so hard to moderate. Get a flip phone, delete apps, schedule times to browse through social media if you have to.
Your time is precious and has financial value. Don’t waste it on social media. Read books, learn a new skill, or have conversations with new people. Anything’s better than wasting your life away on a phone app that gives you nothing in return.
Hope you all enjoyed this week’s blog post! If you’ve missed the previous blog post on perfecting your LinkedIn, click here. As always, don’t forget to like, comment, share, and subscribe!
“Less scrolling, more living.”
Book of the Month: “1984” by George Orwell