Social Media: A Bittersweet Addiction

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Almost every person that owns an electronic device uses one or more of the following apps: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. People use these applications to share their day to day life with friends, family, and sometimes, complete strangers. This is called social media, and it has become a part of many people’s daily routine. Everybody loves these apps because it allows them to connect with people in different parts of the world, read about current events and give their own opinions, see what their favorite celebrities are up to, and the list goes on. But, the number one reason why social media is so loved, is simply because of the fact that it allows people to express themselves and create a version of themselves that more than likely, won’t be seen offline.

We have established the fact that loads of people love social media. However, there are also people that believe that social media should not be used. There are tons of articles coming about the downsides of social media. It is said to cause more stress, anxiety, depression, and most commonly, low self-esteem. The pressure that social media users around the world feel on a daily basis is insane. Between having to keep up with this online persona that they’ve built for themselves and constantly comparing themselves to other people, it’s pretty easy to see why social media can take a toll on one’s mental health.

With all of the downsides of social media and knowing what the pressure of it can do to one’s body and mental health, why is everyone so addicted? The teenagers of today would answer this question humorously by saying that their addicted due to memes, or online challenges. However, the older generations have a more serious take. They believe that social media addiction is due to several factors. Some of the basic factors include the fear of missing out (FOMO), social validation, and egos. The more interesting factors include self-esteem increase and brain chemistry.

It seems crazy to think that something that can tear us down mentally, can also increase our self-esteem, and that’s because it is. It’s insane, actually. What’s actually happening is a feeling of validation due to the number of likes and followers you have. The more likes, comments, and followers someone receives, the happier they become. If they receive anything less than what they expected, they become self conscious and feel as though something about them has to be fixed.

However, as much as this may seem like a more simple form of social media addiction, there’s more to it. This is especially true for the people who have created a persona online that is drastically different from who they really are offline. If someone in that situation were to post a photo of themselves that received tons of attention, they begin to feel as though they have to change who they are offline in order to meet the expectations of those that see them online. With an addiction like this one, there’s no way that one’s self-esteem will be increased without being torn down first.

The most interesting factor, “brain chemistry”, has to do with psychology. Essentially, social media can be compared to an addictive substance called “cocaine”. It’s a powerful stimulant drug that is easy to get addicted to. So, why is social media compared to this type of drug? One reason is the fact that revealing information about yourself online, lights up the same part of the brain that lights when you take an addictive substance. Another reason is a chemical called “dopamine”. Dopamine is a chemical that your brain releases in order to make you feel good.

That feeling you get when someone likes your photo on Instagram? Dopamine. The feeling of excitement you get when you gain new followers? Dopamine. Feeling great about yourself because tons of people are commenting on your photo? Dopamine, dopamine, dopamine. It is all tied to dopamine. Your brain craves approval, and the dopamine produced from a social media addiction satisfies that craving.

Social media addiction does an amazing job at tearing people apart. It keeps people so attached to their electronics, they forget to have real interactions with one another. Everybody is so obsessed with wanting upload “daily snaps” and keeping their Instagram feed updated. This takes away from everything that is happening around us.


Cite this paper

Social Media: A Bittersweet Addiction. (2021, Feb 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/social-media-a-bittersweet-addiction/

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