So why is being on Facebook and social media just like smoking a joint, you ask? Well, for one, both are mighty addictive and work on a basic human psychological premise of instant feedback. Yes, you guessed it. The likes, the emotion icons, the love hearts or the smileys, all these are instant rewards that one seeks as a social media junkie. It is this very instant reward mechanism that ignites dopamine into the nerve endings of our brain and gives the user an instant fix. It’s a drug, alright. You push a post, a picture or a video on a blog and then instantly wait for a response on your social media handles. Instantly, people respond to your stimulus by reacting to it. First, you get a dozen likes but then you want more. So you keep posting more pictures and jokes and opinions. You see, this trigger pulls your attention further and you engage further with your followers. One gets further reactions and comments and the story goes on. Like dope, you want to go higher and higher and test the limits. It’s pure drug addiction.
The only difference is, unlike drugs, it is purely legal and it’s a mass movement that has engulfed the world. This is all because it triggers a chemical that gives us a feeling of being liked and loved, not by people we can touch, see and feel, but by millions and millions of unseen friends and followers. These are people that have no ‘face to face’ social interactions. Even if they exist, they do it behind the maze of servers and internet fibres that now connect the world with over 2 billion population. The impact on the way that it shapes our society is huge. Social media is ripping apart the very fabric of our society today. It is breaking norms, taboos and barriers in an unprecedented way. This is scary as we now no longer look upwards for our inspiration and our God, but downwards constantly pressing keys of our smartphones and tablets. Yes, to seek God today, we have to stare at our feet instead of the Heavens above.
As a result, we have become rude. Our kids miss out on the natural social etiquette and grace that once an internet-free society offered them. The rising rate of depression and anxiety amongst our teenagers is another worrying factor. In a world which is more free, advanced and has so much more to offer, the rising rate of teenage suicide says something is wrong with the system of social media and its reward mechanism. We are feeding the beast and it seems that it might just gobble us next. Social media has increased the proliferation of false news and has diluted truth as we know it. It’s a fact that when truth suffers, so will justice and that is not good for a society.
We have created a tool but now, it is ruling us. Futuristic technology like artificial intelligence is further taking away power from us humans and placing the fate of creators in the hands of our creations. All because of a simple chemical that can be triggered in our brain by a herb. So, the next time you log on Facebook, just remember its real impact on your mind and on society in general.