By Angie Segura Navarro - Student of English Teaching and Translation
One day, after finishing all my duties, I lay down on the couch and watched a video on my phone, it was 5:00 p.m. at that moment. When I came back to reality, it was 11:00 p.m. I had been watching videos for six hours, and I had not realized it! I did not have dinner or got off the couch during that time, I did not even hear my mom saying “good night.” I immediately thought about how awful that was. How can someone spend so much time looking at a screen and not being productive? I got concerned about the damage of our eyes, our brains, and of course, our valuable time. Since that day, I started being more conscious about the use of the phone and now I avoid it as much as I can. On the other hand, I have been observing the attitude of people towards social media. Hence, I will briefly describe how the addiction to social media destroys people’s productivity and what could be done in those scenarios.
Thousands of people have worked hard to catch people’s attention and to increase their business numbers. Hooks such as sounds, reactions, colors, notifications, and one of the most powerful: the infinite scroll down, are features that awakens some parts of the brain and cause users to not have a time limit. As cited by Andersson, (2018), Aza Raskin, a Mozilla and Jawbone employee said that "it's as if they're taking behavioral cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface and that's the thing that keeps you like coming back and back and back."
According to the American Addiction Centers (2020), cocaine can damage the brain structures and triggers addiction, which is a disease involving the reward circuits and dopamine systems. The use of social media also stimulates the brain to easily release dopamine (a chemical that mediates pleasure and motivation in the brain), such as the harmful cocaine does. The Addiction Center (n.d.) mentions that social media provides an endless amount of immediate rewards in the form of attention from others with little effort. Consequently, the brain keeps looking for this positive reinforcement. It is not a secret that there is instant gratification every time people receive likes, comments, objects, and services, in the case of online shops.
All these circumstances that release dopamine cause the desire of having more and more every day; especially, when users are not receiving these rewards in real life; that constant engagement decreases productivity in all senses. For instance, at work or studying, people get unmotivated with what they are doing, they feel “happier” using their phones, and their performance declines; their difficulties to handle interpersonal relationships increase, there is more distance or lack of real communication; health, there is no time to take care of their bodies, mind, and emotions.
Now, it is important to mention that dopamine is essential for the daily life to feel motivated and that can be produced in a number of different ways. The key to control the one produced by social media is to substitute it with healthier mechanisms. The first thing is to be conscious and reduce the exposition to these platforms. With the extra free time, it will be easier to start doing exercise, eating healthier, spending more time with family or friends, and delivering duties; automatically, the productivity starts increasing and the satisfaction of doing productive things efficiently, will produce dopamine.
In conclusion, the more time people spend on social media, the stronger the addiction will be. The stronger the addiction, the lower the productivity. Social media is a way to escape from reality, besides its certain benefits, it has a dark side that takes users´ money and time. For that reason, it is necessary to minimize its advantages and be more aware of its disadvantages. Fighting against this addiction is not an easy or fast process; nevertheless, with the correct habits and actions, the brain will get used to releasing dopamine gradually. These new mechanisms will not only help to be more productive but also to enjoy the daily routines.
MOXIE es el Canal de ULACIT (www.ulacit.ac.cr), producido por y para los estudiantes universitarios, en alianza con el medio periodístico independiente Delfino.cr, con el propósito de brindarles un espacio para generar y difundir sus ideas. Se llama Moxie - que en inglés urbano significa tener la capacidad de enfrentar las dificultades con inteligencia, audacia y valentía - en honor a nuestros alumnos, cuyo “moxie” los caracteriza.
Addiction Center. (n.d.). How Social Media Affects the Brain. Social Media Addiction. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/social-media-addiction/
American Addiction Centers. (2020, November). What Are the Effects of Cocaine on the Brain? Editorial Staff. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/cocaine- treatment/effects-on-the-brain
Andersson, H. (2018). Social media apps are 'deliberately' addictive to users. Social media companies are deliberately addicting users to their products for financial gain, Silicon Valley insiders have told the BBC's Panorama programme. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44640959