- Dean Smith
Facebook: Mind-Altering Addiction for Users
Something drastic has been happening to Facebook users all around the globe. Facebook is labeled as the world’s largest social network that now has over one billion users, and each of those one billion users is becoming more and more engulfed in their online lives, significantly altering their minds.
David Rainoshek wrote this article, “How Facebook (FB) is Altering Your Mind,” on his blog, highlighting writers and studies that reveal the effects that social media has on the minds of its users. And he says,
“It’s been called FaceCrack. And if you have been getting a sinking feeling when you use Facebook that you did not have as a first-time or new user…if you have a hard time with people who use it or incessantly check it (such as those endlessly posting photos of their latest meal, cat experience, new flame, new car, vacation)…if you have been wondering if Facebook (FB) is good for you – or is good for society…or have been thinking ‘this has got to end,’ then this blog post is for YOU.”
Here is the quick and ugly version of how Facebook is altering over 1,000,000,000 users worldwide, according to Rainoshek:
Krista Peck in “The Role of Dopamine in Internet Craving,” writes, “Dopamine is a key player in the brain system concerned with reward-driven learning. Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including roles in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, punishment and reward, sleep, dreaming, mood and attention – just to name a few! Dopamine is released by rewarding experiences such as food, sex, drugs, and neutral stimuli which become associated with these things.” So… the digital age has us stuck in a “dopamine loop”, because the internet makes it so quick and easy to find the information that we seek, as opposed to human nature, which wants us to “hunt and gather” on our own. We have lost the thrill of the hunt. And so it begins, you are addicted.
Web addicts, or those with the official term, Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), “have brain changes similar to those hooked on drugs or alcohol.” Studies show that MRI scans of the brains of web addicts who have made unsuccessful attempts to slow the internet usage (or stop altogether), show disruptions in the brain areas associated with emotions, decision making, and self-control. Still sounds like addiction, right?
Facebook diminishes our attention span with the constant change in stimuli you can encounter with just a 15-second scroll down your News Feed. In the TV industry, the technical term of Jolts Per Minute (JPMs), “is usually used to describe how many times the action changes – by sight or sound – on a given television program. Television programming is designed to cater to the shortest of attention spans – and entrain short attention spans.” We have now adapted to Facebook Jolts Per Minute, and even Facebook Jolts Per SECOND. We are conditioned and habituated to the constant, ever-changing stimuli. Rainoshek adds, “So, we are addicted because we have a short attention span, and we have short attention spans because we are addicted.”
We all know that the websites we habitually visit (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.) track our every move, interest, spending habits, and more. And then you start to realize that these sites you’ve shown interest in the past keep popping up in advertisements on your News Feed. It’s almost like they know what you want to buy! Rainoshek highlights author Eli Pariser, and he calls this phenomenon a Filter Bubble. Rainoshek adds, “The Bubble is created by these online companies to please and coddle you with content you already like and know, so their advertising and sales will benefit by your repeated patronage. The Bubble as an embedding effect: it keeps you where you have already been, making it hard for you to continue to grow.”
Recent research shows that Facebook users experience jealousy, loneliness, frustration, and anger following the use of the site. German researchers found that one in three people felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives, most likely from witnessing positive events in their friends’ lives. Other studies show that narcissistic people and those with low self-esteem spend more time on Facebook.
Most importantly, Facebook may actually be making us dumber. Instead of conducting thorough research and allowing ourselves to breed forward thought on topics to expand our minds, we mindlessly sift through pointless information just to feel “connected”. This biologically alters our brains. How? To recap, Rainoshek writes,
“Through unsatisfying hunting-fueled dopamine addiction, 100s or 1000s of Jolts-Per-Minute – to be impulsive and unable to hold a consistent thought stream long enough to draw new, emergent conclusions we have not come to before. New growth requires consistent attention to something, and time to gestate with it. Facebook at its very core is not designed to facilitate deep brain/mind development – it keeps you hopping like a crack addict hunting for the next fix, over and over, hundreds of times a minute.”
Still not convinced it’s an addiction? Want to know how to help reverse the effects? Read the LONG, ugly version through the link on our website: