If you are reading this, chances are you use social media; most of us do. At least 1 out of every 3 people living today uses social media daily. There is no question whether or not social media has and still is shaping our existence; it is! Do you ever stop to deeply think about how social media affects you? There is now overwhelming evidence that social media platforms thrive on manipulating your brain. If you did not know this then by the end of this article you will know better. Social media is manipulating your brain in serious ways; let us unpack that.
Heightened Selfishness Due To Dopamine
This is something that is not discussed enough but is so apparent on social media. Look at most of the posts or comments people make on social media. They are almost always about oneself and this is mainly due to the quest to feel good. Such content when followed by validating comments, likes, mentions, and likes even make it worse.
It all leads to the excessive release of dopamine. Brain scans have shown beyond doubt when someone is focusing on self, more dopamine is released. That is why most people on social media are unhealthily attached to their ways of thinking and doing things. No wonder debates on social media are usually a mess because of heightened selfishness.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter considered to be the brain’s pleasure and reward system. You see now why it is released when someone is raving about themselves and or when other people are raving about them.
This leads to people being addicted to being more selfish and self-seeking. All this will be in a quest to experience the goodness or ‘highs’ that come with dopamine releases. This dynamic has serious negative implications later because the dopamine releases come and go. When they go it becomes easier for some to slip into depression and even fall sick. That is why you will find some people doing crazy things just to get likes, comments, mentions, and shares. They have become addicted to excessive dopamine releases.
Dips In Memory Retention
When using social media you are constantly bombarded by all sorts of content. One minute you are watching a video, the next it is an ad, the next you are reading an article, and so on. It is a rabbit hole; every second exerts information on your brain to process. This leads to a reduction in your brain’s ability to effectively retain information. This is even worsened by social media platform features that make memory retention unnecessary. For example, you can bookmark or save posts to view later. At the end of the day, your memory retention becomes poor without you even realizing social media is causing that.
Significant Decrease In Your Brain’s White Matter
Your brain has several parts with specialized functions. The white matter part of your brain plays 3 core roles namely, making decisions, management choices and spans of attention, and processing emotions. Studies conducted over time have shown that social media leads to a significant decrease in your brain’s white matter. Imagine what that means! It means you become more given over to poor decisions, failure to be attentive, and emotional instability. The grave thing about the effects is that they affect your whole life even when offline.
Alteration Of Your Nervous System
Sounds out there right? Well, that is exactly what social media can do to you. Social media has become like a drug for many of you; you cannot do without it. Social media validation is a drug and it can kill you. When nothing is exciting on social media or you are away from it you encounter withdrawal symptoms. For some, it can be so intense to the extent of feeling unwell physically. Things like feeling uneasy, drowsy, and even experiencing depression, anger, sadness, and the like. Some can start to experience visual or auditory illusions. One particular study showed that 9 out of 10 people often mistakenly hear or see their phones with notifications. This is due to the body had gotten so accustomed to notifications of new posts or incoming messages.
Many of you could already be experiencing the things I have just discussed. It is a serious problem and I know some might brush this aside. Yet the truth is you could already be too deeply damaged to notice your brain has been rewired. This subject is an interesting one and many studies have been done. Several former top social media platform executives have openly spoken about this. During their time working at certain social media companies, they noted brain manipulation. In short, social media companies leverage brain manipulation to drive social media uptake and continuous usage. I would encourage you to watch a documentary called The Social Dilemma. It takes a deep dive into the issues we just discussed and more.