Facebook has over two billion users – a phenomenal amount of people. But “users” is the right word. Why? Because Facebook has an addictive element built into it. And this was intentional on the part of its founders…
It’s like they unleashed bad juju on the world and literally made a killing doing so. They created a two billion strong legion of zombies who find it very hard to dump the social media giant from their lives.
Think I’m exaggerating or indulging in hyperbole?
So far so good…
Nope. The dopamine response is short-lived. In the case of Facebook you have to continually get more and more likes. And if one of your posts doesn’t get any, you are likely to go on a real downer. Your mood will drop. And you will do anything to get some more likes to get the dopamine response and pick your mood up.
Studies also show that large amounts of people, including children, become depressed partly due to using social media.
But even if you get a steady flow of likes, like a drug addict, you’ll find it is never enough. You have to get more and more likes to keep on a steady mental level.
What the Facebook system doesn’t do is engender a serotonin response. Unlike dopamine, serotonin is the happiness or contentment response, and it doesn’t have an “addiction” element like dopamine.
It is because of the dopamine response that many people feel compelled to check their Facebook on a continual basis – and it’s why you see people walking down the street while on their phone… or worse, driving.
The thing is, Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker knew exactly what they were doing when they developed Facebook, as this page (and video) shows.
In a sense it’s a form of ultra modern magick; using knowledge of neuroscience to perform black hat, black arts – knowing it’s potential to make phenomenal sums of money.
But what can you do to nullify Facebook’s bad juju?
One way is to practise “conscious awareness”, which involves keeping some level of awareness of what you are doing at all times. You’ll find the roots of the practise of conscious awareness in meditation – be it Taoist, Zen or Yoga; or in the system of Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff and in the works of Carlos Castaneda, particularly in his “stopping the internal dialog” methods.
What you do is this:
As you go about your day, including when you are using computers or phones, you focus some of your attention on the input of your senses. You keep some awareness on what is happening NOW… rather than totally losing yourself in any activity.
Typically, most people spend most of their day in a state of trance. And only “wake up” at occasional intervals.
Think about it. If you are using social media, are you aware of your surroundings? Most probably you aren’t.
It’s the same when most people are driving. They go off into a daydream, and their subconscious drives the car. Often you simply can’t remember the last ten minutes or more. You wonder how you got to your destination! In truth, it is far safer to drive a car with total conscious awareness, so you are aware of all the potential hazards around you and those creeping up on you.
Apply this awareness to your use of Facebook and social media, and you are more likely to think “is this making me happy? Is it productive? Do I actually want to do this?”
That’s all it takes to break the Facebook spell and dispel its bad juju.