We live in an age where people share an extraordinary amount of information about themselves. What was once private, and kept behind closed doors, is now in the public domain. People are more than happy to share images of what they have had breakfast and even how they are feeling when they are sat in the emergency room. With this rise of self-promotion and publicity, we are all now stars of the silver screen. With 72% of U.S. adults spending up to 23 hours a week on social media, it is fair to say that as a nation we are addicted. Here are 5 reasons why we are so addicted to social media platforms.
An Innate Response
Research has shown that sharing information on social media platforms affects the same area of the brain as cocaine. The number of likes or shares of a post stimulates reward circuitry of the brain – that means that we feel pleasurable feelings and they provide positive reinforcement for the behavior to be repeated. This pathway is the same natural response experienced in drug addiction.
Social validation is another reason why people are addicted to social media. Humans want to be accepted by their peers. From the first time you walk through that school gate, you want to be accepted into the community, and as you go through adulthood, you also crave acceptance. Social media has also been used by some celebrities to come out as LGBT to their fan base and the wider community; Gordon Thompson who played Adam Carrington of Dynasty fame, Shannon Purser star of Stranger Things, and Raven-Symone whose career started on the Cosby Show, to name but a few.
There is nothing like being distracted by the mundane. Lives are busy, and social media provides an escape from the daily routines: it is like chewing gum for the mind. There is nothing that has not been posted online; you can find out who your team’s celebrity baseball fans are, and share with them the highs and lows of Major League Baseball. Perhaps you weren’t aware that Matt Damon is a Boston Red Sox fan, or perhaps you share Bill Murray’s devotion to the Chicago Cubs; either way, rich or poor, you all share the love of the team. You can join forums for your niche hobby, and chat to people from across the globe who share it with you. There is also a great amount of humor online, and who doesn’t benefit from being able to have a good laugh: a welcome distraction and very entertaining.
Social media is perhaps the most precious form of communicating technology that we have. Unlike other ways of communicating, such as through newspapers or websites it is not overtly policed or politicized with agendas. You only have to visit Twitter to see its users’ responses to news events and allegations to see how the involved parties are named and shamed.
You may not know anybody else going through the same life challenges as you, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some support that you can find on a social media platform. The community spirit that our ancestors experienced has changed beyond recognition, and some people may argue that it has disappeared completely, but it is still there, just not on your doorstep. The good news is that your online community is there 24 hours a day, and seven days a week – and you can access a wealth of support and friendship whenever you like.