The social media of the day should be given names like Snapcrack, Instagrams and Tooter, according to the latest research. It seems that spending too much time checking Facebook and other digital communities can be just as much of a detriment to a person’s cognitive stability as getting locked into a savage habit with cocaine or opioids
Earlier last week, the folks at Fox News commissioned a team of “health specialists” to examine the effects of using social media in excess. The goal of the study was to determine whether scouring news feeds for positive affirmation could pose health risks for the user.
It turns out a person who lives and dies by his or her presence on various social media networks can get sucked into a short-term habit, one selfie at a time.
Researchers say receiving “likes” and “comments” can give users the same feel-good effects as snorting coke or other dopamine-releasing drugs.
“Facebook likes and comments activate similar parts of the brain as opioids, where each like or positive comment activates the reward system and the brain releases dopamine,” said Dr. Tara Emrani, a psychologist at NYU Langone Health.
“So, arguably, the feelings/experiences of the brain, as a result of Facebook likes or comments, is similar to those resulting from cocaine, albeit less intense,” she added.
This is not the first time scientific minds have suggested that social media is like doing cocaine.
In 2014, researchers at the University of Southern California published a study showing that a person’s Facebook feed has the power to tickle the same parts of the brain as their favorite powdered stimulants.
But this does not mean that social media is addictive in the same way as commonly used drugs, says Keith Humphreys, Director for Mental Health Policy in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.
He recently told Fox that, “drugs affect the same brain reward pathways that are fundamental to our functioning,” which means a person with a so-called “social media addiction” is really just behaving a certain way because their digital interactions have proven “rewarding.”
But sometimes the user has a bad trip.
Right before the holiday break, Facebook researchers admitted that social media could be harmful to the average user.
In a report titled “Hard Questions: Is Spending Times on Social Media Bad for Us?,” the company acknowledged that it has perhaps contributed to a legion of anti-social “like” junkies, as there is plenty of academic evidence showing that Facebook affects the overall mental health of its users.
Although positive affirmation on social mediamight keep a person coming back for more, one negative comment is all it can take to shuttle the user into a wicked state of depression, sadness and even despair.
So, much like cocaine and other harder drugs, Facebook believes its platform should be used in moderation.
“In sum, our research and other academic literature suggest that it’s about how you use social media that matters when it comes to your well-being,” the company wrote.
But what about the children?
Some studies indicate that social media addiction is a very real problem; one of which stands to change the addict daze of future generations.
Research has shown that giving a kid a smartphone or a tablet is the equivalent to handing them “a gram of coke.” It is a swipe-and-scroll scourge that has prompted rehab centers in parts of the country to provide parents and progeny with “digital technology treatment.” The goal here, other than raking in shit tons of money on this disease of the week, is to break the addiction and give kids the tools they need to get socially involved in reality.
On the flipside, however, a report from the New York Times suggests that smartphones, which are being used for social media, are preventing more children from experimenting with illegal drugs. Although researchers have not dug up any significant evidence to explain this phenomenon, there is speculation that teens are simply more preoccupied with digital technology these days to give two flying squirts about getting high.
Much like how Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground wrote the song “Heroin” and Eric Clapton gave us “Cocaine,” we shudder to think that there could be a time when the rock stars of tomorrow start writing whiny, little tunes about their fiendish addictions to the social media world.

By High Times

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Yin asked not to be identified by her real name. A young addict in her mid-twenties, she lives in Palo Alto and, despite her addiction, attends Stanford University. She has all the composure and polish you’d expect of a student at a prestigious school, yet she succombs to her habit throughout the day. She can’t help it; she’s compulsively hooked. Yin is an Instagram addict. The photo sharing social network, purchased by Facebook for $1 billion, captured the minds of Yin and 40 million others like her. The acquisition demonstrates the increasing importance–and immense value created by–habit-forming technologies. Of course, the Instagram purchase price was driven by a host of factors including a rumored bidding war for the company. But at its core, Instagram is the latest example of an enterprising team, conversant in psychology as much as technology, that unleashed an addictive product on users who made it part of their daily routines. Like all addicts, Yin doesn’t realize she’s hooked. “It’s just fun,” she says as she captures her latest in a collection of moody snapshots reminiscent of the late 1970s. “I don’t have a problem or anything. I just use it whenever I see something cool. I feel I need to grab it before it’s gone.” THE TRIGGERS IN YOUR HEAD Instagram manufactured a predictable response inside Yin’s brain. Her behavior was reshaped by a reinforcement loop which, through repeated conditioning, created a connection between the things she sees in the world around her and the app inside her pocket. When a product is tightly coupled with a thought, an emotion, or a pre-existing habit, it creates an “internal trigger.” Unlike external triggers, which are sensory stimuli, like a phone ringing or an ad online telling us to “click here now!,” you can’t see, touch, or hear internal triggers. Internal triggers manifest automatically in the mind and creating them is the brass ring of consumer technology. We check Twitter when we feel boredom. We pull up Facebook when we’re lonesome. The impulse to use these services is cued by emotions. But how does an app like Instagram create internal triggers in Yin and millions of other users? Turns out there is a stepwise approach to create internal triggers: 1 — EDUCATE AND ACQUIRE WITH EXTERNAL TRIGGERS Instagram filled Twitter streams and Facebook feeds with whimsical sepia-toned images, each with multiple links back to the service. These external triggers not only helped attract new users, but also showed them how to use the product. Instagram effectively used external triggers to communicate what their service is for. “Fast beautiful photo sharing,” as their slogan says, conveyed the purpose of the service. And by clearly communicating the use-case, Instagram was successful in acquiring millions of new users. But high growth is not enough. In a world full of digital distractions, Instagram needed users to employ the product daily. 2 — CREATE DESIRE To get users using, Instagram followed a product design pattern familiar among habit-forming technologies, hooks. After clicking through from external triggers, users are prompted to install the app and they begin using it for the first time. The minimalist interface all but removes the need to think. With a click, a photo is taken and all kinds of sensory and social rewardsensue. Each photo taken and shared further commits the user to the app. Subsequently, users change not only their behavior, but also their minds. 3 — AFFIX THE INTERNAL TRIGGERS Finally, a habit is formed. Users no longer require external triggers to use Instagram because the internal triggers happen on their own. As Yin said, “I just use it whenever I see something cool.” Having viewed the “popular” tab of the app thousands of times, she’s honed her understanding of what “cool” is. She’s also received feedback from friends who reward her with comments and likes. Now she finds herself constantly on the hunt for images that fit the Instagram style. Like a never-ending scavenger hunt, she feels compelled to capture these moments. For millions of users like Yin, Instagram is a harbor for emotions and inspirations. It’s a virtual memoir in pretty pixels. By thoughtfully moving users from external to internal triggers, Instagram designed a persistent routine in peoples’ lives. Once the users’ internal triggers began to fire, competing services didn’t stand a chance. Each snapshot further committed users to Instagram, making it indispensable to them, and apparently to Facebook as well.

Source: By Dierck Schaffer,

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