Several social media experts in the tech industry, including former Facebook executives, discuss how addictive social media is. In this video, experts share their thoughts on social media addiction and how to use social media as a tool as opposed to a pass time.
Want to watch the video behind this blog post?
We did not produce this video, but rather link to it for convenience.
Due to a foul word at 10:51 in this video, the video is NOT safe for students to watch (but is a good eyeopener for parents)
Key takeaways on social media addiction
- We all want to be liked but now with social media we want to be liked by sixteen million people
- The unintended consequences of a network; when it grows to a billion people is it changes your relationship with society
- If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you
How does social media addiction develop?
Consumer internet businesses are about exploiting Psychology. We want to psychologically figure out how to manipulate you as fast as possible and then give you the dopamine hit. We did that at Facebook and Instagram. WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter and WeChat has done it. These are great examples of how failing fast is the right path to exploiting psychology of mass populations of people. I feel tremendous guilt. We all knew in the back of our minds even though we famed this whole line of life; there are not bad unintended consequences. I think in the back deep recesses of our minds we knew something bad could happen. The way we defined it was not like this. –Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive once in charge of user growth
Turn it off. It is hard for young people now because they are addicted to social media. If you don’t think you are addicted, then see if you can turn it off for a week. Social media is a tool. We should use it. You are free to go in any direction you want online and it’s not the enemy. It is a reflection of our own free will. We all want to be liked but now we want to be liked by sixteen million people. Some of us do anything to be liked. We used to do anything to be liked but it was by the person in front of you. Now, we want to be liked by sixteen million people that we don’t know. We have to ask ourselves what is the long-term if not to the short-term effect of too much information? –Denzel Washington, Actor
What are some long term effects of social media?
It is easy to characterize what I said as a Facebook specific thing because I worked there and I was a key part of growing it. What I said was the tools that have been created today are starting to erode the social fabric of how society works. What I meant by that is: Today we live in a world now where it is easy to confuse truth and popularity. You can use money to amplify whatever you believe. Get people to believe that what is popular is truthful and what is not popular may not be truthful. I think the question we have to ask ourselves is how do we live in a world where this is not possible. We know for a fact that what all of these systems do — every single one — they exploit our own natural tendencies as human beings to get and want feedback. The feedback is the release of dopamine in your brain. These feedback loops exist everywhere in Call of Duty, video games, and social networking sites; they get you to react. –Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive once in charge of user growth/Social Capital Founder
The unintended consequences of a network; when it grows to a billion or two billion people it changes your relationship with society. It interferes with productivity. The thought process that went into building these applications was all about how do we get your time and conscious attention as much as possible. That means that we need to give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while. When someone liked or commented on a photo or a post, it is getting you to contribute more content. Getting more likes and comments is a social validation feedback loop. It is the kind of thing that a hacker would come up with because you are exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. –Sean Parker, Former Facebook President
How can students prevent becoming addicted to social media?
We’re at a point now where we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. I would encourage all of you, as the future leaders of the world, to internalize how important this is. If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you. If you push back on it, we have a chance to control it, rein it in. We’re at a point in time where people need a hard break from some of these tools and the things that they rely on. The short term dopamine driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. This is a global problem. We are in a bad state of affairs right now. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other. I don’t have a good solution. My solution is I don’t use these tools anymore. –Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive once in charge of user growth/Social Capital Founder
How does social media validation trigger feedback loops?
We compound the problem. We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals; hearts, likes, thumbs up. We conflate that with value and with truth. What it really is, is a fake brittle popularity. That is short-term and leaves you even more vacant and empty before you did it. It forces you into this vicious cycle where you are like “What’s the next thing I need to do now because I need it back?” Think about that compounded by two billion people and then how people react to the perceptions of others. It is bad. You’re training your brain here. Acknowledge that networks where you’re spending hours a day are rewiring your psychology and physiology and figure out how to be productive in the commercial world. –Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive once in charge of user growth/Social Capital Founder
What is social media’s role in amplifying fake news?
There was a hoax on WhatsApp in a village in India, people were afraid that their kids were going to get kidnapped. Then, there were these lynchings that happened as a result where people were like vigilantes running around. They think they found the person. This is what we’re dealing now. Imagine when you take that to the extreme where bad actors can now manipulate large swaths of people to do anything you want. It is a bad state of affairs. –Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive once in charge of user growth/Social Capital Founder