Social Media and Dopamine

What follows is an article I wrote for the Jul/Aug/Sept issue of Lotus Guide on the subject of social media and technology and its affects on our society including the science behind dopamine and their accompanying addictions. This page is to add some videos to watch that back up and add to what I am pointing out in the article that is a good starting place to do your own research…which, by the way, is key to what I am talking about.

UPDATE: The day we distributed the magazine Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook lost 161 Billion Dollars in one day…maybe people are actually waking up to the games and deceit.

Social Media & Dopamine

By Rahasya Poe

social mediaOK, here I go once again writing about something that makes so many of us uncomfortable; which is our social media experience. To some extent this involves Twitter, Instagram, and a variety of other platforms set up to draw us in, but I’m going to focus on Facebook to some extent since over one billion people now spend an average of fifty minutes a day on Facebook according to their (Facebook) statistics. I admit that I have not one, but two Facebook accounts but I’ve recently recognized an old shadow of my personality which involves addiction.

But how could this be, being on Facebook is not the same as a gambling habit, a drug or alcohol addiction or an addiction to pornography…or is it? A former Facebook executive, Chamath Palihapitiya, said, “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. You are being programmed” He was the former vice-president in charge of “user growth.” He told the audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business that he felt tremendous guild for helping to create such a system and told the audience they should take a serious look and break away from social media. When you watch the short talk he gives, notice the amount of Likes compared to Dislikes.

At this point I could start talking about all the research around this worldwide addiction to social media and the results are conclusive, which is that it’s changing the way our society relates, plus, there are neurological and biological conditions to be aware of. Anyone that follows my articles or listens to my radio show knows that I don’t hold extreme points of view because the truth is usually found somewhere in the middle. That being said, social media can be an “Ok” thing, not great and not horrendous, just Ok, and that is determined by knowing the game that’s been put upon us. Let’s be honest, the people behind the government, advertising agencies and corporations are much more intelligent and driven than we are. But all of this information is readily available and I will put up a web page as a starting point for anyone brave enough to take a look at this.

So…are you ready to fall down the rabbit hole with me on this subject and think about it on a social media-facebookdeeper level? When we ask ourselves, “What is reality?” the answer has always depended on our perception of the world around us and how we process and think about the data that is fed into our brain. This is why we can watch a love story and actually feel the emotions involved, or a horror movie and feel scared; our mind does not know the difference. This is also why Internet pornography is a 100-Billion-dollar business…in our minds, it can become very real right on down to a dopamine release which is where addiction processes kick in. If you are part of the older generation like I am it may be difficult to realize the world the kids are being born into. It would be much like asking a fish what it feels like to be wet…it would have no idea, so it’s actually up to the older generation to keep an eye on this and many other subjects in our world and point it out.

bad lyrics

Catchy Lyrics In Today’s Music

I was going to write an article called, “The Day the Music Died” because I’ve noticed something about the majority of music these past few years, which is it all sounds the same. There’s a reason for this. When I used to go out and by an album, my first album was The Doors, I would take it home and play it over and over again and in time I would like the songs more and more…why, because familiarity is what gives us that dopamine release. This is why older songs, like Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin worked, we would sit there and listen to the whole seven minutes to get to what’s called the ‘bridge’ towards the end and get goose bumps every time…that’s one of the side effects of dopamine. Below is just one of many examples about what is and has been happening in the music industry, and why.

But here we are today, shortened attention spans and downloading hundreds, if not thousands of songs onto our iPods, I have an iPod that holds well over 3,000 songs. What the music industry has figured out is that the kids today don’t take the time to get to the bridge in a traditionally written song, they listen for around one minute and if it doesn’t grab them they are off to the next song. So to grab them, most of the songs are now written with the bridge towards the beginning for one, and since there are so many songs and familiarity is what releases the dopamine, the songs are starting to sound the same because they are. Pop songs are written primarily by a very few people with software designed to make them sound the same, that’s how the music industry has handled the attention span problem, the songs sound alike from the beginning and are less dependent on the bridge. This makes it very difficult for a band or person who is actually creating a new sound to be heard…it’s simply too noisy out there.

social media jokeThis is just one more of the many examples of what the information age has given us in the way of noise and visual pollution. I was talking with a contact at the Inner Traditions Publishing House the other day about why it is that I like their books so much, the reason being that they tend to attract and accept authors with new ideas and information. I have well over 2,000 books here at my home that publishers send me to review and when I read them I can almost predict what the author has just read because their book is the synthesis of the last 10 books they just read…nothing new.

One of the things that’s driving the disintegration of our Western world is the ‘mindless’ adaption to technology which is driving us full force into a world that will be dominated by Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). The Ray Kurzweil’s of this world will have you believe that it will make us ‘superhuman’ to integrate with A.I. but it will make us ‘subhuman’. I met a young person a while back and I brought up a problem that he didn’t know the answer to and expected him to rationally try to figure it out through logical deduction. He ‘wouldn’t’ do it because he said, “Why should I go to the trouble, when I can just go and GOOGLE it.” There is a particular neural network that our brains set up to “think out and logically deduce” problems, especially problems that require a new level of understanding to arrive at new ideas or solutions. But don’t even get me started on search engines and their algorithms that funnel you into websites that tend to back up and support your previous searches which can make you believe the whole world believes like you. I wrote an article a while back about A.I. and some of the robots starting to interact with us and our society which is HERE

I was only able to hit the highlights of where social media and technology is taking us so if you are still with me on this and like to do that long lost art called ‘thinking’, visit to continue your education into this subject that is eating away at the very fabric of our society…I just smiled at myself with the thought that I must sound like an old fogey to some of you, but the fact that some of the most intelligent and wise people on the planet are showing well reasoned research that backs me up a little.

What follows are some links that show the tremendous amount of concern many people have on these subjects so please…take some time and don’t assume for a moment that you already know about what’s going on behind the curtain.

If you use a SmartPhone, which I do, you need to consider this

This is a great little talk about millennial’s and social media

And last but not least, so we can remember to laugh at ourselves and at the same time look at a very serious subject, which is the illusion of choice we’ve been given in the world…here’s George Carlin