The brain on social media

Social media addiction leads to brain manipulation

PHOTO SAMANTHA ARGENTO

Companies like Wendy’s and schools such as our own use social media. New medical terms such as “Facebook depression” and “Facebook addiction” have come to use. Social media keeps users hooked, giving a hit of dopamine to keep them contributing content on the site. The site gives posts likes and comments to keep the user on the site as long as it can. This creates a social validation feedback loop, it exploits a vulnerability in human psychology.

“The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.” Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook said in an interview with Axios. Social media sites were made to be addictive, they use human psychology against the users. The longer you stay on the better for the site.

Social media sites have become the newest widely available addictive substance. According to the news site social media today “Astonishingly, the average person will spend nearly 2 hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media every day, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime.”

A review study from Nottingham Trent University found that “it may be plausible to speak specifically of ‘Facebook Addiction Disorder’…because addiction criteria, such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behavior, appear to be present in some people who use [social networks] excessively.” This going to become a huge issue with addiction as it is, something you can’t really restrict and anyone of any age can access it. Teens are not the only guilty party, adults are addicted as well. It’s an addiction, but it isn’t treated as such in everyday usage. Users don’t think that they can stop whenever and that they are in control, somewhat gambling. Also the influencers who affect the viewer. Pictures of people with what is considered a perfect body or people wearing expensive clothes in their expensive cars. This causes people to feel jealous because they want those things but either do not or cannot have them. This also causes mental disorders like depression and body dysmorphia.

Social media is where people show the good aspects of their life, acting as the cameraman, letting followers only see what they want viewers to see. It is an escape, something in life that can be controlled.

They might take 100 selfies, but share only one, the best one, with filters of course. Doing this is erasing human flaws, making the person posting seem perfect, flawless even. The posts with expensive cars. Nice clothes and mansions aren’t helping. And, anyone can see that and compare themselves to that flawless profile never seeing the human behind the screen posting it.

That photo is harmful to both sides, the one posting and the one who sees it. Behind the screen the people feel like they have to be flawless and this is a harmful mindset. It creates a lust to be like the image and to want what they have. “It can have a negative effect looking at altered images, comparing yourself,” Taylor Winnie said. Body positivity is trending, but it has years of this harmful mindset to erase.

“The average American teenager spends up to nine hours per day on social media,” According to The Collegiate Times. “Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and many more platforms allow people of all backgrounds to have a voice and connect in the virtual world.” Allowing everyone a voice is a good thing, however, having this virtual platform one click away, while convenient can be addicting. “Instagram alone has more than 700 million users worldwide. “Instagram and Snapchat are the two worst social media platforms for those with mental health disorders. Body image, sleep patterns and a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) are all impacted when we log into our profiles,” said the Collegiate Times. Fear of missing out causes many to be glued to social media, always having to know the latest news on celebrities or even friends and family. While social media may be the only way to keep up with distant family and friends, but when it becomes constant refreshing round the clock, there the problem lies.

Then, there are the Youtubers. People who share their lives with anyone who watches their videos, the part of their lives they choose to show. Every YouTuber does not do it, but many do and it can be very harmful. A 6-year-old, Ryan from Ryan’s ToysReview and 12-year-old Evan from EvanTubeHD both review toys and have millions of subscribers and views. Both boys are very young and already famous. This exposure could become an issue down the road as this isn’t a normal childhood and may not be good for their mental health. “Kids grow up faster,” Winnie said.

“Influencers have pressure to look a certain way,” Winnie said. Influencers influence people in things like lifestyle and fashion, they set the trends. “Influencers lives end up only doing stuff for their social media,” Winnie added. The job that never ends, they do everything for their social media, it becomes their life. Influencers share their life with the world and end up losing it in return.