For many people, social media is the first thing they check when they wake up in the morning and the last thing they see before they go to bed. Having a difficult time not checking social media several times throughout the day is more than just an attachment, it an addiction! How addictive is this urge to check social media compared to other addictions? Far worse than people know.
In an influential study of desire regulation, Professor Wilhelm Hofmann of the University of Chicago and his colleagues find that people’s inclination for social media is much stronger than tobacco and alcohol! Professor Hofmann explained to the Guardian, “Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist.”
This media addiction affects our brain in a comparable way what drug addiction does to us. Some important findings of brain scan research on this topic include:
- Loss of Grey Matter: The grey matter regions of our brains control executive functioning, such as planning, organizing, impulse control, etc. Internet addiction significantly reduces tissue volume of this region (Yuan 2011, He 2017).
- Reduction in Effectiveness of White Matter: Like heroine, internet addiction reduces the effectiveness of white matter of the brain, resulting in loss of communication between different regions of the brain (Lin 2012, Hong 2013).
- Damages of Dopamine Functioning: Internet usage gives us pleasure through the release of dopamine in the brain. But too much use of internet reduces our ability to receive and produce dopamine (Kim 2011, Hou 2012), resulting in chronic depression.
But why do the companies make it so addictive? Simple, it is a business strategy. Ad revenues of these companies increase with the time people spend on the social network platforms. In 2017, the combined revenue of social media companies was $41 billion, up from $32.91 billion in 2016.
The best way to detoxify ourselves from this media addiction? Engage with like-minded people whose goal is to enlighten themselves and others and practice meditation. Joining regular group activities and sharing our feelings with each other give us the courage and patience to deal with the initial unpleasant feelings as we reduce the use of social media. On top of all of these, let us regularly practice yoga and Quantum Meditation.