What Makes Social Media So Addicting And Dangerous

Written by Matt C

Hey Tribe,


It is estimated that we check our phones once every 12 minutes, which is about 5 times per hour.

This seems like a conservative estimate based on my own behavior and observations of the outside world.

Just look to the cars next to you when you are at a red light or stuck in traffic. Everyone is glued to their phone, when they cross the street or even stand at a urinal. It’s no surprise anymore because we have come to accept it as normal.

Social media is an outstanding tool to learn, connect and create with, it’s also insidiously addictive. We are still trying to integrate this new dimension of experience in our society.

If grown adults with fully developed brain are having a hard time managing their addiction, the toll its taking on the developing mind is devastating.

As species we are hard wired for communication. Affective engagement is what enables us to form relationships and navigate the world. The problem we have today is mistaking engagement for communication. Physiologically, it all feels the same.

I didn’t expect the thrill of engagement to be so utterly intoxicating.

Having your ideas ricocheting around this new dimension of experience has a certain energy to that is insatiably addicting. The reason we check our phones is to get a piece of that energy.

We speak to be listened to, we write to be read and we tweet to be engaged with. The problem with going viral, or being successful with a tweet, is that it creates a high watermark for experience. The blue bells are a blessing and a curse.

It follows the same principles of addiction, one is too many and a thousand is not enough.

It all relates to energy. The thrill we get from engagement is difficult to replace or sublimate into more productive tasks. Like any addiction, the novelty of the experience is what often overshadows the pain we have in our lives.

It is the difference between checking your phones to connect and checking your phone to escape. The problem is the motor pattern and the experience are similar. We have to aggressively discriminate between being productive and unwinding. We are tuning into the same place to scroll as we are to read and connect.

It is easy to get stuck in the frenzy of constantly checking notifications, it was inadvertently designed this way and then capitalized upon.

Fighting the impulse to check your phone is about asking yourself the right questions.

Take pause and ask yourself why you are compelled to check your phone?

What do you plan to accomplish?

Is there anything else you should be doing instead?

Practicing awareness enables you to understand your impulses and the intent behind them. We could all use a little more discipline when it comes to managing our relationship with our phones, particularly social media.

Scrolling is the new default state we have to manage. We are familiar with the nature of the drifting mind, scrolling is no different because it possesses the same sense of vacancy like dreaming without knowing you are dreaming and thinking without knowing you are thinking.

Purpose is the force behind a life worth living. We need to understand the purpose behind our impulses and our ambition when we pick up our phone.

To live deliberately is to own your impulses.

If you've enjoyed this article then please check me out at the links below.

Matt C