Recently I've had two red flag events regarding the impact social media plays in our lives. The first incident was an interview with Sean Parker, co-founder of Facebook, who openly stated the application’s goal was to create an addictive platform to exploit a vulnerability in human psychology.
For the devoted social media fans among us, hang on because the room may get a little hotter!
Continuing his candid confession, Parker outlined a thought process that asked: “How do we consume as much [of your] time and conscious attention as possible?” The answer was to promote a “…little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.” It followed that individuals contributing more content would find themselves rewarded with more likes and comments. This self-perpetuating system was strengthened by another phenomenon young people call FOMO or fear of missing out.
The second flag bearer was none other than Denzel Washington who has made it a habit to question the long-term effects of social media on intelligence. Reacting to a world of bent neck people leaning over their mobile devices he pointedly asks, “Are we using it or is it using us?” Good question!
Try going anywhere these days—grocery stores, malls, gymnasiums, movie theaters, or schools and watch for people whose world is not reduced to a two by four-inch iPhone screen? Everyone—both young and old, are mining hits, views, comments and of course likes, the king of the dopamine pyramid! But what happened to direct contact with another person, verbal communication and eye-to-eye connections? Can a like replace a pat on the back or the joy of hearing a friend’s belly laugh? Is gratitude best expressed as a quick tap on the like button or by telling someone how much you really appreciate them?
Thanksgiving is just a few days away and the holiday offers a unique opportunity to leave the social media world and enjoy the real world of family and friends. For a few undistracted hours, you can exchange a few fleeting likes for love shared around a table piled high with food and fellowship. Your social applications will wait patiently outside for you while you enjoy real human contact. Try it--you can post it later!
BTW: For those of you who enjoy a good suspense book, try my husband’s 1st novel, The Gift.