The Social Dilemma. The Algorithm On Social Media Can Addict and Deceive-How to What To Do About It
Social Media and Social Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok know you--they really, really know you.
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn Know You and Want You
They track your moves on their platforms and with cookies. They can also track the other places you go online, what you do on those sites and they can even track you offline.
With all this tracking, they basically identify you and create a dossier of sorts, as you leave a digital trail of what you’re looking for or what you’re doing online and in your life.
Knowing what you're interested in, makes it's easier for the platforms to get and keep your attention. Nir Eyal coined the term the Hook Model which consists of triggers and intermittent reinforcement to get users into a "behavior habit" or the habit of checking our feeds.
- Triggers: Things like Notifications or Likes or friends posts, cause us to engage.
- Intermittent Reinforcement is how as users we get rewards- like emoji's or ads with music at random intervals
The Triggers and Rewards Feel Good And That Means Dopamine
Also known as the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter and it'st part of our brain’s reward system. is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.
When we get a notification or browse new posts we can excite neurons in the area of the mid brain, which in turn releases dopamine which is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.
This dopamine release can play a role in becoming obsessed or addicted to social media as the brain can start requiring more and more stimulation to produce the "dopamine hit" it needs just to make the user feel normal.
Technology and all the joy, adventure and ease can feel amazing-right?! "It's simultaneously utopia and dystopia at the same time utopia" Tristan Harris, from the Center For Humane Technology points out.
Research tells us that too much time online has been linked to poor sleep, anxiety, depression, isolation and the inability to focus
That's why it's important to be mindful of how much your time and attention your social feeds are taking and take control of how much and how long and how often you turn to your social media of choice. Gauge your social media use here- it's a problem or are you all good?
Social Platforms Are Built To Keep Your Attention, Not To Keep You Accurately Informed
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others compete for your attention and then try and keep it. Honestly, they don’t care what you see, as long as you keep looking. Exact, true, correct or Not- Nice stuff or mean stuff- it’s all the same as long as you keep coming back and scrolling.
Keeping Your Attention Means They Can Sell You More Stuff
Why? Because the longer you stay, the more ads you can see, the more money they make. Simple right? It's called the Attention Economy and it's the business model of our Social Platforms.
Algorithms determine what you like best
But here’s the problem. The algorithms these social platforms use can think they know what you want based on what you’ve looked at and then they keep showing you more and more and more of that kind of thing or point of view, until as far as you’re concerned, it is the undeniable truth. Sometimes it is. But sometimes it absolutely isn’t.
It's Called A Filter Bubble
Although some claim it doesn't exist, Wikipedia defines filter bubble this way: "A state of intellectual isolation that allegedly can result because an algorithm selectively guesses what information users would like to see based on user searches, location, and click behavior. As a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints."
Did you know that you can watch days of videos from people who claim the world is flat? But just because you can watch the content, that doesn't make it true.
Twitter, Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Others Are Not "News" Channels
Be mindful that the social platforms you visit were not created to provide the news, just like comedians and news commentary programs, people have opinions so what you’re getting a lot of on Social platforms is opinion.
When a topic is important to your life and well-being, the internet offers unlimited options, so exercise your ability to be discerning and explore!
Data Driven Feeds Can Cause Distress
The algorithms that determine what we see, can cause us to become more polarized and extreme and our kids to become insecure and depressed if they fall into the habit of just looking at what topics and posts and ads the social platforms decide to show us.
If you want graphic proof of that, check out the new documentary on Netflix, The Social Dilemma.
The Movie From The People Who Made Twitter, Facebook, Google and More
The show features a number of Silicon Valley insiders who were around as social media became what it is today. Top former employees or creators from Twitter, Facebook, Google and others tell us the back story. To a person, they are not happy with where things have gone. In their eyes, the platforms have gone awry and caused users to become more and more addicted to the platforms and more and more anxious.
Hacking the "Attention Extraction Model"
The movie pointed to research noting that "Fake News" traveled six times faster on Twitter than "real news."
That's one reason the Social Dilemma offers some tips to prevent addiction and help you and your family get more diversity of information online:
- Turn off Notifications- You can turn them off on every single app. We recommend turning them off anytime you want to unplug and relax.
- Delete your social media accounts. Okay- maybe some of them?
- Don't watch the next video that comes up on YouTube, scroll or search and choose your own.
- Follow people with differing points of view.
- Set a Social Media schedule and stick to it so you don't fall into a mind-numbing, continuous scroll cycle.
- The Social Dilemma Website recommends becoming Digital Wellness Certified. I LOVE this! I'm an advisor the Digital Wellness Collective and I'm taking the course now. It's designed for educators, consultants and people who want to learn to help others. Sign up Here For the Fall Cohort
I love love love that idea. Last election cycle I made it a point to vary my news intake, especially from the cable news channels, which have turned into polarizing, biased editorial channels. Every day I would flip back and forth between CNN and Fox News. Honestly some days I thought I was watching coverage of two completely different stories!
You're smart. As an intelligent, caring member of society you can vary your sources, search and explore and discern what's accurate and correct.