Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, and Foursquare, people our age today spend a large portion of their day on social media sites. Social media sites have been the latest craze for a few years now, but why is it that people feel the need to constantly keep in contact with others every minute of the day? Why do people feel that it is necessary to share everything they’re doing throughout the day with all of their friends or “followers?” The main question is: why is social media just so addicting?
Besides being a distraction from daily tasks, it has been found that sharing information on social media sites actually provides a person happiness and pleasure. A Harvard study proved this idea. Researchers at Harvard University did a number of experiments all that concluded that when a person tells information about themselves, the same part of the brain is used that is associated with pleasure- the same pleasure we receive from eating a good meal, getting money, and even having sex.
During the study the Harvard researchers hooked subjects up to an MRI machine and had them answer questions and discuss aspects of their own personal lives. They also had them listen and discuss aspects of other’s lives. The MRI machine showed a distinct change in the brain activity when talking about themselves as opposed to others. The region of the brain associated with reward was strongly activated when the subjects were talking about their own lives, making it clear that they would prefer to talk about themselves instead of others simply because of the feeling of happiness and pleasure that part of the brain releases when doing so.
I had always heard that when having a conversation with a new person, always ask them questions about their own lives; people can talk forever about themselves. So how does this connect to social media? Social media is an outlet for people to talk about and show the things that are going on in their lives constantly. A bonus about social media is that not only are people getting to talk about themselves, they get to do so in front of a large audience: the hundreds of thousands of other social media users. Harvard researchers also performed a second study in which the test subjects got to share information with some of their family and friends while some had to keep the information to themselves. The subjects that got to share their personal information with others had increased activity in the region of the brain associated with reward.
One of the researchers from the study, Diana Tamir, told the Los Angeles Times, “I think the study helps to explain why people utilize social media websites so often. I think it helps explain why Twitter exists and why Facebook is so popular, because people enjoy sharing information about each other.”
Now you know there is actual medical reasoning behind why social media is so popular and so addicting. Everyone wants to feel that extra bit of joy and reward that social media provides. Why else do you think social media is so popular? Do you think everyone feels the same way as those in the study and enjoys talking about themselves?
Also, always remember to be safe about what you post on social media sites, no matter how much joy it may bring you in doing so!