MORE IDEAS FROM Social media and the neuroscience of predictive processing – Mark Miller & Ben White | Aeon Essays
According to Predictive Processing theorists, being able to manage uncertainty has been associated with living well. A majority of people are failing at checking their online addiction and self-obsession, resulting in increasing cases of depression and despair.
Depression looked from the perspective of predictive processing, is a form of ‘cognitive rigidity’ where we fail to adjust our sensitivity towards criticism or feedback from others.
Too much engagement with hyper stimulants can cause addiction and depression, which social media companies fine-tune to perfection, leading to a perfect storm.
This is because more engagement means more profit, and companies know very well what content is addictive and engaging due to their all-knowing algorithms and big-data analytics.
On social media, being good looking is important to attract a certain audience. Social media influencers are going to great lengths to appear appealing to their followers, in order to grow their fame. They spend thousands of dollars on surgeries and makeovers, making sure no fashion and lifestyle trend is left untouched.
This social media image is a high-maintenance affair, with many succumbing to mental health problems associated with the new barometers of success, as the number of likes on their Instagram posts.
Apart from being a lot like pornography in terms of addiction and depiction of fantasy states, social media is akin to gambling when we see the habit-forming and arousing states of mind it creates.
Gamification of many social media apps makes the unpredictable cycle of social interactions, or virtual rewards, many times more addictive and crafted to perfection.
The way app interactions are designed, the user sees highly interactive mechanisms to like, share, upvote or comment, making feedback immediate and direct. The notifications are designed to arouse the user with more variable rewards and eventual compulsive behaviour.
Example: Facebook’s new ‘Swipe to Refresh’ feature works similar to a slot machine arm, making many describe the app as ‘behavioural crack cocaine’.
Some of the social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram act as hyper stimulators of manageable uncertainty, where digital stimuli(follows, likes and dislikes) is on high gear, affecting the brain in a fast-forward manner.
Studies show that the younger demographic wants restricted, private, secure and exclusive networks which cannot be thronged by unwanted people, like their parents.
These exclusive online social places can be termed as digital campfires, and are mainly in the domains of private messaging, micro-communities and shared experiences.
One study showed that people with Alzheimer's disease handle their stressful emotions better when they listen to music.
Other studies revealed that certain types of music may change our perception, and cheerful music can foster creativity.
There is now a wide body of evidence that points to the fact that heavy use of smartphones, the internet, and many social media platforms can have debilitating effects on our neural processing, cognitive performance, and behavior. On average smartphone users check their phones close to 85 times a day and interact with their phone about five hours a day. Increasing evidence is pointing to the fact that our smartphones are not making us so smart after all and are leading us to more unhappiness.
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