Personally I have an addictive temperament. Cannabis, chocolate, sweet things, amphetamines, needing to be seen. All these I have been addicted to at different times.
Nowadays one addiction of mine is clicking and checking on BBC World News about 10-20 times every day.
Fifteen years ago Facebook did not exist. Social media was an unknown concept. Swiping meant a cat batting its toy.
Tweeting was the sound that birds made. A lot can happen in fifteen years.
Social media enables contact, communication, sharing of information and views. Individuals can exchange experiences and lessen social isolation. Connection is essential to us as human beings and social media helps this connecting.
Insights and positive relationships happen through social media.
The world’s knowledge is now in our pockets. Endless options for entertainment are just that swipe away. A friend said: “Even my hippy mum who resists all forms of modernity has discovered YouTube conferences, articles on Google (the answer to all questions!), and the delight of seeing pictures of her daughters, grand-daughter and friends.” These are all big pluses.
Recently I was on a protest march with tens of thousands of others. The advertising for this mobilisation was primarily done through social media.
Channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter. We have much to be thankful for – thanks to social media.
Our abilities to access information have been significantly improved. Connections across continents are more possible. Interconnecting of many is reality. This is the age of internetting. Many changes have been hugely positive for the quality of life.
And yet. Information is the new gold rush for corporations. We freely hand over personal details so that we can be sold more stuff. According to one study, 3% of Americans sleep with their smart phones in their hand. When given the choice between not having sex for three months or not having their smartphone for one week, nearly a third choose the not having sex. In online communication, there is a stripping out of social graces and nuanced meanings. The virtual world can be fairly flat with the complexity of human emotions reduced to emoticons.
When we are using social media, we must remember that it is designed to keep us using. It is intoxicating.
Facebook claims that on average people spend more than fifty minutes every day on its platform. That is a lot of time. Facebook had 1.8 billion users by December 2016. That is a lot of users. The structure of social media triggers dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the same hit that a gambler gets. Or the crackhead. The addictive stimulation that ensures the user keeps consuming.