In an age where societal norms no longer reflect the quintessential charms of Mayberry, there are now apps on which to build relationships, forums on which to swap stories, and social media, on which to connect with others. Though the Leave It To Beaver neighborhoods and the Lucy and Ethel camaraderies have all but dissolved, social media usage still has its benefits. The detractions, however, can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting mind. Want the insider scoop on how to establish a healthy relationship with your tech? Just like any other powerful commodity that has the potential to do good or bad, we must take stock of its drawbacks, and work to avoid the pitfalls.
What’s the science?
Social media taps into one of the four building blocks of our brain, the chemical dopamine. With each new hashtag on Instagram or ‘like’ on Facebook, our brains are fueling a constant stream of the reward chemical. When does this chemical reach danger levels? Dopamine produces a sense of satisfaction, and unless regulated, can leave us craving more and more, until the craving becomes addiction. You see, our brains can sometimes run short on dopamine. This imbalance can be due to dependence, in which we are using too much of the chemical. As with any illicit activity, such as gambling or drug use, the brain can shrink; in fact, the brain scans of social media abusers hold remarkable similarities to those of drug addicts.
Riding the same train as dissatisfaction, are the vampiric thoughts of comparison. These false comparisons leave us hollow, with nothing more to offer than emptiness. Throw in the isolation that a virtual world brings about, and our brains will be reaching for the emergency brake. Our bodies are hardwired as social beings, and as such, need the person-to-person interaction that a text or an e-card just can’t provide.
Want a healthy dopamine high?
You can tune into the helper’s high from participating in charitable activities! This dopamine rush is as strong as a mild dose of morphine!