Monday, December 17, 2012
Social Media: The Newest Designer Drug
This just in: People really like using social media to interact. Oh wait, you probably already knew that. In fact, you're probably one of those people.
To put it in perspective, there are about 7 billion people on the planet. Facebook signed up one billion users in slightly more than eight years of existence.
Have you ever wondered why these sites are so popular? As with any observable global phenomenon, scientists and researchers have been furiously trying to answer that very question. At first glance, some of the results seem shocking.
For instance, a survey conducted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business concluded that resisting the urge to use social media is tougher than resisting the urge to sleep or have sex. Granted, there is often little reason to resist, because it takes minimal effort to check Facebook or Twitter.
However, there appear to be physiological forces driving social media use. According to Harvard University research, self-disclosure spurs the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with rewarding feelings. The same study cites research that found 80% of social media posts are self-reflective, compared to 30-40% of speech during verbal conversation.
So just like Twizzlers "make mouths happy," Twitter makes brains happy.
The infographic below, created by Online College Courses, summarizes some of the shocking findings about the addictive nature of social media usage.
Are we actually crazy for social media, or are there lurking variables at play? Continue the discussion in the comments section below.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Toca Boca