For the people who use social media regularly, they know the term “addiction” has come up frequently. Either they feel like they are addicted to it or others are calling them out for being addicted to it. It turns out there’s a lot of truth to that, and it’s by design. Sources are saying Internet products and services in general are designed to be “behavioral cocaine.”
Insiders Recall Birth of Social Media
The BBC show “Panorama” talks to technology insiders regarding the methods they use to attract users to their products and services and lead them to an addiction in order to make money. Users can’t even imagine a day in their lives without using social media.
“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,” reported Aza Raskin, previously with Mozilla and Jawbone, to BBC.
“Behind every screen on your phone, there are generally like literally a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting.”
Raskin himself designed the infinite scroll when he was working for the consultancy Humanized. You know, the scroll that never ends, that just keeps giving you more and more information and pictures to look through. If you like seeing the first ten items, you’ll enjoy seeing ten more, and ten more, and ten more, etc.
Leah Pearlman is a co-inventor of the “Like” button on Facebook. She did such a good job that she even became addicted to it herself. “When I need validation – I go to check Facebook, she admitted. But she didn’t create the validation to get you addicted.
Twitter co-founder Ev Williams said that too much of the Web is built around that feedback like the Like button and retweets, and they are “very carefully crafted” to bring about certain behavior. Instead, comparing this feature to feeding people, he said the feedback loops “maximize calorie delivery.”
Even Facebook admitted last year that social media could have a negative effect on people, and that people who use it a lot can have troubles with their mental health. People who don’t use Facebook at all would have no problem believing that.
Where Do We Go from Here?
So where does this knowledge leave us? In a way it’s just confirming what we knew. There’s no doubt that social media can lead to addictive behavior. Those of us who use social media have been in the position of checking Facebook too many times during work or staying up too long at night reading Twitter.
But knowing it was designed to be that way doesn’t really change anything, does it? Knowing I fell into their trap isn’t going to make me denounce social media and delete my accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
It might, however, change the way we think about social media. It’s supposed to be addictive. It’s supposed to provide us validation. It’ll be hard to use it now and not think of it.
What do you think of this news? Will it change the way you think about social media? Will it change the way you use social media? Let us know in the comments how and if it will change things for you in how you think about social media or how you use it.