Lately, there have been screaming headlines all over the net about social media addiction. There are some people that believe that social media and video games are truly addictive, but there are also some people who believe the moon landing was faked. Should we truly be concerned about social media addiction? Or is this just hysteria?
Experts Speak Out
A recent headline even asked, “Is Social Media As Addictive As Cocaine?” Well, that might be stretching it, but as The Fix explains, “One expert suggests that media-stoked fears about addictive technology only serve to divert attention from pressing problems like online privacy and user consent.”
Citing a report in Business Insider, scientists from the Oxford Internet Institute believe it’s irresponsible to compare social media to hard drugs. A report on the BBC even claimed that some social media is “deliberately” set up to keep people hooked, which almost sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Harmful or Hysteria?
One engineer melodramatically said, “It’s as if they’re taking behavioral cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface and that’s the thing that keeps you coming back and back and back. Behind every screen on your phone, there are literally a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting.”
One trick this engineer came up with is “infinite scrolling,” where you can scroll through content endlessly without having to click anywhere else. But is this trying to keep kids hooked, or is it just making social media easier to traffic? It’s certainly hard to believe that there’s truly something sinister going on behind the scenes when many tech people are trying to streamline technology.
A Big Difference Between Social Media and Addiction
As sources tell The Fix, comparing the buzz you get from social media to the high you get from a drug is stretching it. For example, your brain can release dopamine when you look at Facebook, but it’s nowhere near the high you can feel when you ingest cocaine.
As one source explained to Business Insider, “Dopamine research itself shows that things like video games and technologies, they’re in the same realm as food and sex and learning and all of these everyday behaviors, whereas things like cocaine, really you’re talking about 10, 15 times higher levels of free-flowing dopamine in the brain.”
In some parts of the world, there are rehabs that deal with video game addiction, and some people would scoff at this. Some feel an addiction to tech can be a serious disorder, while many feel there are far more serious addictions in the world to be dealt with.
Is This Worth Getting Concerned About? Probably Not
People can get addicted to practically any substance, whether they’re harmful or not. And there are certainly many who would think it’s ridiculous to compare social media to cocaine.
Funny enough, many people reach out to each other on social media when they need help with addiction, so if social media is indeed addictive, maybe they’d have to find a low tech way to reach out for help. (Are there any pay phones still around?)