It’s so popular that 1/3 of the whole world, and almost 60% of the US uses it.
And it turns out that this basic-human-need amplifier is not just a fun curiosity. It’s an application that rewires not just the internet, but also parts of You…
The First One’s Free:
As you might imagine, there are people out there from the “Hey y’all watch this!”-set who think what’s worth doing is worth overdoing.
And it’s the same with networks & social media usage.
Reportedly, 5 to 10 percent of internet users are actually addicted & have real problems controlling how much time they spend online and at Facebook, etc.
And even though it’s a mental addiction instead of a bio-chemical or physical one in the case of actual drugs, the net effects are still similar.
Yet Another Addiction That Rewires The Brain:
In a small study on IAD, subjects showed significant negative changes in the white-matter of parts of the brain that regulate emotional processing, decision-making and attention-span.
-All of which can lead to problems with impulse-control and professional & social behavior, which is why psychologists are beginning to take IAD just as seriously as things like gambling-addiction.
Especially when it’s concerned with social-media posts or photos and a participant’s followers and replies, the mechanism can be scarily-similar.
Likes, Faves, Follows And Winks Are Internet-Cocaine:
Every single time a positive event happens in an addict’s online world, the same centers of their brain that respond to things like recreational-drugs give the person a smaller, but chemically identical boost of the go-go hormone, Dopamine.
The more your brain does this, the more it rewires itself. -Especially in the search for the next bump.
And the eternal pursuit of that next bump leads to that persistence and addiction.
-Especially when the devices & services are everywhere, free, easy to use, and the brain centers they stimulate represent strong forces like love, motivation, and similar drives.
Me, Me, Me, Me, ME!:
Another factor that confounds this brain-rewiring is the difference between monologue vs. dialogue.
When you talk to another person, in-person, the average someone usually spends talking about themselves can be somewhere around 30-40% of the conversation, all things considered.
HOWEVER, when you’re online and just posting an update out from yourself to many people on your Facebook or Twitter accounts, it’s something different.
That’s you doing almost all the talking. -At least for some part of the interaction.
Big-Upping Yourself == Bigger Boost:
And there’s the rub. Because your brain’s dopamine-centers are Much more active when you’re talking about yourself. So internet “socializing” is much more addictive than the normal kind.
Which worries the psychologists studying IAD increasingly as the percentage of the population with constant, broadband-speed access to the internet continues to grow at very high rates.
In addition to that, they might end up dealing with more patients who have or cause complications associated with Narcissism, which has been said to be on the rise recently.
I got this! And this. And this, and this, and this…:
In addition to internet social-media replacing the television as the new “Idiot Box” and filling the world with smartphone-sleepwalkers, several other problems arise as a consequence.
One of which is Multi-Tasking.
What used to be the buzzword-du-jour for managers trying to make a splash with their innovative chop-socky 10 years ago, turned out to be the destruction of productivity.
-Except now, it’s harder to escape it, because everyone has that socially-connected, dopamine-squirting smartphone vying for their attention all day.
And while Supertaskers have been found, they are only about 2.5% of the population.
You Are Not A Supertasker:
Everyone else has been shown in study after study to have significantly-lower productivity when doing multiple, heavy task-switching.
And much like the earlier IAD, it lowers someone’s attention-span and reduces their ability to filter.
This increased task “noise” also has been shown to lower their ability to commit facts and details accurately to memory for later use.
The long-term effects are not known, but it seems like multi-tasking might result in an awful lot of, “Wait, what was I doing again?” and a lot less of memorable, significant, and fulfilling life-experience in any area.
Pavlov’s Smartphone Dogs:
On a weirder-note, the effects of one type or another of technology or network-addiction also seem to be invading our Bodies.
In a surprising statistic, a high percentage of smartphone users have experienced something thought reserved only for recent-amputees.
This group of up to 89% of all users experienced the recent network/social amputation phenomenon known as “Phantom Buzzing”.
They had become so conditioned to expect their phone would buzz in their pocket with one update or another over the course of a day, that the actual nerves in their body generated a false-echo of that event.
And similar to the IAD patients, you’d have to imagine what happens to the brains of these people when that connection is lost.
What is the opposite of a Dopamine boost? -A cortisol crash? Adrenal fatigue?
You like me, you REALLY like me!:
One positive report in all of this is stands in-spite of fast-food-style dating apps like Tinder, and the horror of the YouTube comment section.
The internet’s social component is Actually bringing [some] people together for the better.
In addition to sites like Patreon, Indiegogo, and Kickstarter where people can say I Love You with dollars, people still seem to manage to say it with their Hearts on other parts of the web.
Recent studies have shown that a significant number of people tend to get in more meaningful, long-lasting relationships if they meet online first.
The specific reasons are not yet clear, though it could just be large numbers of people who would have gotten into relationships anyway just using a digital toolset, availability of more information, or even getting more shy-but high-attachement people to start connecting.
Either way, not all of the changes the always-on, always-there, high-volume social-connection wreaks on our brains and bodies are for the worse.
Check out the details at the Links:
Video by ASAPScience
Photo, “Wires” by Ricardo Vasquez
• Source: ASAPScience-Social Media Changes
• More Coverage: Yahoo, “Disconnected” 2004 Study on Internet Addiction [Archived][PDF]
• Source Studies:
• Abnormal White Matter Integrity in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder: A Tract-Based Spatial Statistics Study
• What is the role of dopamine in reward: hedonic impact, reward learning, or incentive salience?[PDF]
• Amygdala Volume and Social Network Size in Humans
• Cognitive control in media multitaskers
• Phantom vibrations among undergraduates: Prevalence and associated psychological characteristics