Positive feedback with a knee jerk desperation. Matt Mayberry, who works at a California startup called Dopamine Labs, says it’s common knowledge in the industry that Instagram exploits this craving by strategically withholding “likes” from certain users. If the photo-sharing app decides you need to use the service more often, it’ll show only a fraction of the likes you’ve received on a given post at first, hoping you’ll be disappointed with your haul and check back again in a minute or two. “They’re tying into your greatest insecurities,” Mr Mayberry said. This was taken from an article in The Globe And Mail – Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy. So why can’t you put it down.
It’s common knowledge also, that our smartphones are the first thing we check when we wake up and the last thing we use when we go to sleep. Research firm eMarketer found that on average, Americans spend five and a half hours a day with digital media, more than half of this time was on the mobile device. Sherry Turkle for The New York Review wrote, that some groups found the number range much higher “In one recent survey, female students at Baylor University reported using their cell phones an average of ten hours a day.” However, Turkle argues against using the term “addiction” because it implies that “you have to discard the addicting substance,” however, we are not very well “going to ‘get rid’ of the Internet.”
One of the main interest points in this topic was that, in describing what they’re doing, many of the subjects fell naturally into the language of substance abuse, abstention, and recovery. People colloquially describe sessions online as getting a fix, or refer to disconnection from social media as detoxing or going cold turkey. These effects are seen both in a social atmosphere, with friends, relatives and co-workers but they also effect the way that we are within our work ethics and state of mind. The toll of technology is emotional rather than physical. Our connection with technology is only based on what is available to us through it, and while the question of how social media effects us is not a new question, but rather one that is changing every day.
It seems that one of the main emotional tendencies from using social media is the search for gratification. Not only are these networks designed to create a feeling of self worth using ‘likes’ and ‘follow’ as terms of achievements, but they are produced to be fast paced and present, rarely do social media networks focus on things in the past. Active refreshing on sign in or on opening of the apps create a sense of newness and immediacy, constant updating leaves you not wanting to miss out and creates curiosity ensuring repeated visits; but this fast paced attitude to content is having a great effect on content creation itself. Articles are pushed out one after the other, videos and blog posts are churched out every day, allowing this sense of immediacy has created dangerous territory regarding news and documentation of events and issues. Long form journalism relies on public engagement to create real change or movements, but with news stories and content being pushed out so quickly we do not get chance to see the stories end. This issue is not a media crisis alone but rather a content crisis onto itself, we have allowed monetary values to be intrinsically linked to ‘likes’ and ‘views’ creating the immediacy and fast paced attitude to content creation, in turn we stay attached to the screen, constantly in new moments.
But the more that you read about it, the more it seems that we are in the middle of a new Opium War, with marketers adopting addiction as an explicit commercial strategy. New apps and sites are built not to be more productive in our lives but to actively keep us distracted, rather than help us to spend our time more wisely they are designed for anti-climax, keeping us hooked and wanting more while we mindlessly carry on scrolling waiting for satisfaction. We know that we are not “going to get rid” of the Internet, but how do we change it?